Much to think about before casting ballots

Are you prepared? Have you spent time gathering information, talking to candidates and making your decisions in advance of Monday's

Are you prepared? Have you spent time gathering information, talking to candidates and making your decisions in advance of Monday’s municipal election?

Decisions made in our community will shape the future of Sylvan Lake. We’re electing a mayor and six councillors to steer growth projected to add several thousand people to our community in a fiscally responsible way while adding needed infrastructure for water, sewer, trails, roadways, leisure facilities and more.

Also we’re electing a school board trustee — something many may not know as they weren’t included in any local forums.

New during this election is the four year term which replaces the previous cycle of elections every three years. That puts added pressure not just on candidates who had to decide they were willing to commit four years of their lives but also to voters who will not get a chance to express their democratic right until 2017.

What will our town look like then? We can hardly imagine. If we hadn’t been living here for the past 10 years, we’d have been surprised to make a trip back to Sylvan Lake after a lengthy absence. Surprised that there are more than 3,100 students in our schools. Surprised that a whole new commercial district has grown up. Surprised that thousands of people now call Sylvan Lake home, in fields where crops grew, and have beautified our community with their own talents and ideas.

While some projects are already underway the visions our future councillors bring to the decision table will definitely shape things to come.

Water and wastewater facilities need to be addressed to handle burgeoning growth. We need more industrial and commercial areas to attract employee-creating operations that will support our residents.

Tourism, downtown revitalization, annexation, development on the town’s east and west outskirts, improving quality of life with more walkability and trails, more recreation opportunities, and a vast array of other things will concern our elected officials.

It’s too bad there weren’t more residents at Tuesday night’s council meeting to see just how busy our community has become. Staff and councillors reviewed third quarter project reports for 51 separate projects which are underway — everything from public works and planning and development to finance and community services projects to keep up with changing times, growth and maintaining what we have.

At the end of the public portion of the meeting, our mayor and councillors all had a chance to express their appreciation for the working relationships they’ve built, the amount they’ve learned and the ‘community’ they’ve discovered through increased involvement on the front line of elected politics.

Unanimously they also expressed thanks to town staff citing their expertise and professionalism. Well deserved accolades. After all, without those people and the knowledge they possess, elected officials who come and go at election time would struggle to learn their jobs.

This brings us back to the initial point of our editorial. We encourage all eligible voters to visit the polls Monday at Sylvan Lake’s community centre and mark your ‘x’ beside the candidates you believe will be deliver the tall orders we’re prepared to send their way.

We have a group of tremendous candidates who deserve your support. Let’s surpass the dismal voter turnout of just over 30 per cent which was recorded during the last election in 2010. There are about 9,500 eligible voters. But it can be accomplished one-by-one, with each and every one of you making a concerted effort and acting