By Anna Smith
Last year was a busy one for the Town of Bow Island, and the momentum for both projects and community shows no signs of stopping as we move into 2023. The previous two years were hard with the pandemic, said Mayor Gordon Reynolds, but 2022 represented a return to form that residents needed.
“We had our regular maintenance and construction carried on during the pandemic, but for the community as a whole, there wasn’t much (growth),” said Reynolds. “We got back to some more normal activities (along with) some special activities this past year. We had a volunteer group that got together and organized Bow Island Days in mid-July and that featured a parade. It’s been 10 years since we had a parade. (The last was) during our centennial in 2012.”
The year featured a lot of dances and community meals, said Reynolds, showing how excited people were to be able to take part in that small-town spirit that makes Bow Island so special. One of the major events, of course, was the opening of the Kale Porteous Memorial Splash Park.
“Of course this splash park was driven by volunteers as well, fundraising and volunteers were very involved in supporting the construction. But yeah, the number of people we had was just fantastic, absolutely wonderful,” said Reynolds.
This excitement for community events continued with things like Market in the Park, Christmas Craft Sales, the Holiday of Lights, and the hospital garage sale, all things that Reynolds hopes continue into the new year.
“Operational side, for the town, we replaced two blocks of waterline and probably more paving and patching and sidewalk replacement than we normally do. Some of that was to catch up on some things, but also because we bit the bullet on some of that pricing, asphalt prices were up this year, because oil prices were high. We had areas that needed to get done,” said Reynolds. This year, the Town has their collective eye on some big projects, both their own and on the provincial level, such as the twinning of Highway 3 which will begin work in the spring.
“Their current plan calls for a significant bypass of the community but they are definitely going to talk about doing something different. So that’s one of the big things we will be working on in 2023,” said Reynolds. “There’s a lot of reasons, economically, that it’s important to us. In a way, it’s kind of ironic that it’s very exciting that they want to twin the rest of the highway. The economic benefit for southern Alberta is going to be tremendous. But if they do a bypass, like they currently have on the books, which is about four kilometers away from town, that would be economically detrimental to our community, so we were going to try and work with (the government) on that.”
There are also plans for the undeveloped parts of town, which begun in 2022, that Reynolds expressed excitement on putting into motion. “We’re looking to solve an issue we have with lack of rental accommodation, lack of attainable housing and also, we need space for a proposed continuing care facility,” said Reynolds. “There’s been some public engagement. So far, we’re working with the engineering company, as well as the Rural Development Network out of Edmonton. It’s coming up with the right type of development for the community, there will be some recreation out there, including a playground and we’re pretty excited about that.”
There’s certainly demand for the housing, added Reynolds, and for a new recreation center, in which fundraising has already begun.
“In the meantime, we do have to do some upgrades to our arena and swimming pool for the short term. That’s going to take some of our energy and resources this coming year to keep those facilities operating and there will be some more water line replacement this year,” said Reynolds. “We try to do some every year. We have aging infrastructure and we’re doing our best to try and get that all replaced. That’s a big job.”
With the provincial, and possibly federal, elections coming up this year, there’s potential for a lot of change in the next 12 months, but the Town of Bow Island is certainly ready to meet and to make the most of it. “We’re moving ahead. It’s always exciting,” said Reynolds. “There’s a lot of good things happening in southern Alberta.”