The Village of Beiseker made a tough decision in 2023.
After years of debate and contention, the Village sold its local airport. Newly elected and appointed Mayor David Ledoyen acknowledged it was a tough call, which came before his time on council, but nonetheless one he agrees with.
“We have been struggling with the airport for a long time,” he explained. “So that's tough, and it's somewhat controversial. But I think it was, personally, a good idea. I think that was probably the biggest thing that happened this year outside of the election, of course.”
Ledoyen is referring to the byelection which was held in the village on Oct. 17. The circumstances for the byelection were tragic, coming on the heels of the untimely loss of Coun. Karen Ursu.
Ledoyen emerged the winner of that byelection, but admitted to being a bit overwhelmed by the ensuing whirlwind.
“I mean it happened all so quick,” he recalled. “I entered the byelection with two other nominees. I was elected on Oct. 17. And then on the 23rd, I took my oath as councillor. And then about five minutes later I was voted in as mayor.”
Former Mayor Warren Wise, who still sits as a councillor, nominated Ledoyen for the role of top elected official, and Ledoyen said Wise has been instrumental in helping him transition into his new role.
“I'm very lucky because I have a council that supports me, and especially Warren, as the (former) mayor, who supports me,” he said.
Ledoyen said his main priority coming into the new year is to help maintain the Village’s fiscal discipline, and lessen the burden on taxpayers as much as possible, who have struggled with significant tax increases in recent years.
Ledoyen said he has been in the shoes of those who have struggled under the tax weight.
“I was hit hard personally with property taxes, and property assessments, and stuff like that, he admitted. “I was one of those affected people. You know, my tax is up 40 per cent over the last two years … My wife and I; we had a rough year this year too.”
Thus, Ledoyen was extremely encouraged by this year’s budget, which largely held the line on taxes.
“Budget-wise we’re on par, and that's kudos to council,” he said, “but even more importantly kudos to our CAO, who has been with us for quite some time.”
Outside of maintaining fiscal discipline, Ledoyen said he hoped Beiseker would be able to work more closely with the Town of Irricana and the Village of Acme in the coming year to agree on a strategic framework to share resources between the three communities, thus lessening the cost burden on all. He cites the example of the tri-community peace officer agreement reached this past year as a great model going forward.
“So now we have a peace officer that is shared between the three communities,” he explained. “This is good for multiple reasons. The costs are shared across all three communities, which is obviously good. And I think it's something, so far, that has been really successful, and I think it's definitely something to lean on moving forward.”
Ledoyen also hopes to improve the Village’s communication with residents by putting more effort into utilizing social media to get the word out about council business, and other local initiatives, which affect everybody, and he says the Village will start livestreaming council meetings on Zoom for those who can’t attend in person.
“What we've been working on is just getting more information out to the residents,” he explained. “All the information's there, and there's nothing hidden. I can attest to that because for two years I've been coming to the meetings and learning, right? So nothing's hidden. We're just trying to make things a little bit more easily accessible.”
Ledoyen also has one big request to make of Beiseker residents coming into the new year.
“I would just want to ask is for more involvement from the community, whether it even coming to council for meetings, or volunteering. We need more community involvement, and I'm hoping that something that's something that's only going to get better, instead of worse, over the coming years.
“It's a big ask,” Ledoyen acknowledged, “and it's a change of mentality, for sure. That's something that I would love to see again. We need our village and our country just to repair itself.”