By Anna Smith
2023 was a year of perseverance and progress within the County of Forty Mile No. 8, said Reeve Stacey Barrows, as she reflects on the accomplishments of the County and plans for the year ahead.
It was a challenging year for agriculture in the region, which Barrows highlights as the backbone of the community.
“Over the last year, we experienced an unusually warm period, with minimal precipitation, and more recently, minimal snowfall,” said Barrows. “Despite these challenges, our agricultural sector continues to demonstrate remarkable resilience. Last year cattle prices saw a notable increase, and our producers continued to adapt innovatively to the varying climatic conditions. We remain hopeful for a reversal in weather patterns to bring much-needed moisture to our lands.”
The County is preparing for further challenges as well, said Barrows, as reports say that reservoirs are down 42 per cent from storage target levels, which could spell problems down the line.
Meanwhile, the County was hard at work with their Public Works Road Program and Agricultural Service Board programs. The County now maintains nearly 4,500 kilometers of roads.
“We are continuing to secure grant funding to facilitate vital improvements to our bridges and other municipal infrastructure, thereby strengthening our transportation network,” said Barrows.
“Additionally, we have achieved a significant milestone by completing a project that delivers irrigation water to the Hamlet of Winnifred,” said Barrows. “This accomplishment showcases our dedication to supporting and enriching the lives of our community members in all County Hamlets.”
Connectivity and renewable energy were also both focuses this past year, representing a desire to keep up with a changing world and keep the County in a position to be a part of greater future development.
“Our involvement with Verge Economic Development, SouthGrow Regional Initiative and the South East Alberta Regional Economic Development Strategy underlines our commitment to diversified economic growth,” said Barrows.
“As we step into 2024, we remain guided by our strategic plan, focusing on growth, tourism, community safety, and quality services,” said Barrows. “Our aim is to continue nurturing a supportive community for residents, agriculture, and industry, guided by our values of natural landscapes, environmental stewardship, collaboration, and a diverse economy.”
“We extend our heartfelt thanks to all County residents, staff, and volunteers for their unwavering support and dedication. Together, we look forward to a future that is prosperous, innovative, and reflective of our strong community spirit,” said Barrows.