Sylvan Lake residents were given a chance to chat with town councillors in a casual environment during Coffee with Council at Waves Coffee House Saturday morning.
One of several held throughout the year, the gathering — during which town residents were treated by council to a free cup of coffee — allowed for an open engagement process to discuss anything and everything town-related, explained Mayor Sean McIntyre.
“The vision of Coffee with Council is to engage the community and meet them where they’re at.” he said. “We want to find a way to get out in the community and engage (Sylvan Lake residents) and make sure the work that we’re doing reflects their values and their vision for the community.”
Information on the town’s Municipal Development Plan was presented at the gathering along with Council’s 10-year Vision. The latter will be adopted by council following a period allowing for public input. Feedback so far has been positive, said McIntyre.
“Before we adopt it, we want to run it by the people who live here and make sure that it’s something that they’re comfortable with, and so far the response has been good,” he said.
Other common topics of discussion included the NexSource Centre Multiplex Redevelopment Project, trails and specialized transit — the lattermost of which the town will be looking into “in the next few years,” according to McIntyre.
Saturday also gave McIntyre and councillors a chance to reflect upon their first year in office, and discuss with the public what’s in store for 2015.
“In 2015, we’ll see a lot of the policies that we developed in 2014 be implemented,” he said. “I think that’s really exciting from a political point of view, but it’s also exciting from a community point of view, where we are helping to direct the future development of our community in the residential sector, in the commercial sector and in the industrial sector.
“What I’ve see through 2014 is encouraging growth and encouraging prospects in all three.”
The town will also look to continue to strengthen regional relationships with nearby municipalities such as the City of Red Deer, Lacombe County, Red Deer County and the Town of Eckville among others.
Maintaining those relationships is something McIntyre sees as being mutually beneficial.
“It’s an encouraging trend that we’re not all islands out there — that we face similar challenges and we’re able to put our heads together and talk with the other community’s leaders to see how they’re solving problems and how maybe some of their approaches can benefit us, and vice versa,” he said, adding he’s enjoyed his first year of working with the new council and foresees a bright future for the town under its leadership.
“We’ve got different ideas and we’ve got contrasting points of view, but we share values like (putting) the community first, and integrity and respect,” he said. “We’ve got three years left in this term, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else we can accomplish together.”
Town staff are reminding community members who weren’t able to attend Saturday’s gathering that documents relating to both the Municipal Development Plan and Council’s Vision are available online at www.sylvanlake.ca. There, councillors’ email addresses are also listed, along with other town contact information.