Mayor announced run for re-election
Okotoks: Bill Robertson says he has more work to do on council
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 04, 2013 10:53 am
Okotoks is a prosperous, safe and desirable community to live in, but it can’t afford to rest on its laurels and there’s work to do to secure its future, says the town’s mayor.
With this in mind, Mayor Bill Robertson announced last week he will run for re-election as mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election.
“There’ still work to be done,” he said. “We have a very desirable community as shown in our community survey. Most people are happy with the quality of life, but the saying is you may be on the right track but if you don’t keep moving you’re going to get run over.”
Robertson has been on council for 18 years, with five terms as a councillor and one term as mayor. If re-elected Robertson would serve another four years on council.
The most important decision facing the Town over the next four years will be identifying a long-term water supply for future growth and development.
He said the Town will need to look to the Bow River for its future water supply, either with a pipeline from Calgary or one from the river in the MD.
However, he won’t say which option he supports because the Town doesn’t have all the costs tallied up yet.
It’s going to cost the Town at least $100 million over the next 25 years to supply water for an estimated population of 58,000 people.
He said this is too much for the Town to take on by itself and Okotoks will rely on provincial funding. Yet, he is not certain how much the provincial government will have available for infrastructure projects after this year’s flood.
“Based on that we have to see how much the Province will fund,” he said.
He said he believes the Town isn’t up against the wall on water and there are steps it can take in the interim, including buying water licenses.
It’s important to Robertson to listen to the community. He said he supported the 30,000 population cap when he ran for election in 2010, but he also wanted to hear from residents.
“That’s why I supported removing the cap because I believe the majority of people in Okotoks supported the removal of the cap as long as we continue on in a sustainable manner,” he said.
Robertson said he also wants to continue to support recreation in the community. He would like to see a second ice rink built at the Centennial Arena to alleviate the space crunch in town. He said the Heritage Heights Arena, which will open this season, will help to ease the situation and give the Town time to plan for another rink in Okotoks.
“We need to be planning for another arena to be down at the Centennial Arena Site,” he said.
He said the Town needs to look at transit in the next four years as well.
However, the issue comes down to affordability, both for the Town and the people who would use it, and council will have to decide whether a commuter service or local transit within the community are needed.
He wants to ensure a number of steps are taken to protect Okotoks from floods. He wants the Town to work with CP Rail to build a berm along the rail line west of town. He said it’s critically important because the rail line is what protects downtown Okotoks from floods.
He said the Town needs to finally move forward with a performing arts centre, either on its own or in partnership with the Foothills School Division for a facility at the Foothills Composite High School.