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2023 restructuring setting Irricana up for future success, say local officials

“Prior to this year, we had some very unhappy individuals in town, and that anger seems to have dissipated,” Mayor Bryson reflected.
New land use bylaw and municipal planning commission in place to help Irricana manage growth.

Irricana mayor Jim Bryson and CAO Doug Hafichuk are reflecting on a productive and more harmonious year at Town council overall in 2023.

“That went very well, I think better than it has in a few years,” said Bryson. “We've got a council that's really pulling all together in one direction and we've got a bunch of staff members who are dedicated.”

Bryson said he was proud of the way the entire community seemed to pull together better this year.

“Prior to this year, we had some very unhappy individuals in town, and that anger seems to have dissipated,” he reflected.

Hafichuk agreed.

“I think the thing I'm most proud of with this community is just the complete 180 in terms of the tone and tenor in the community,” he stated. “You've got such great, respectful, purposeful conversations happening; be it between council and admin, council and the public, and the public and administration. We don’t always see eye to eye, but they are always good, positive, constructive conversations now.” 

Outside of this more harmonious and productive atmosphere in 2023, Bryson said he was most enthusiastic about ongoing dialogues between Irricana, the Village of Beiseker and the Village of Acme on how the three small communities could work more inter-municipally together in 2024.

Citing the 2023 tri-community peace officer agreement as an example, Bryson said he looked forward to more such conversations with his fellow mayors and the villages’ CAOs.

“I'm looking forward to continuing our intermunicipal relationships,” he said.

“The time is coming up for us to start working inter-municipally on maybe some shared services,” agreed Hafichuk. “You know, there's some discussion that can happen around maybe sharing water, wastewater servicing and just thinking about more regionally what the next 10, 15 and 20 years is going to look like.”

As nice as these potential intermunicipal agreements are, Hafichuk acknowledged there are some problems Irricana can only solve on its own.

“So the big question is: where do we build the homes?” stated Hafichuk. “We've got a larger conceptual scheme approved, and the exciting news there is after you know about a decade or so of just sort of being stalled, that Prairie View development seems to be picking up some real steam. The landowner has some developer interest and they are talking with builders now. And it is realistic that we could be having conversations around subdivision in 2024.”

Bryson also acknowledged that housing is a real dilemma for the community. With many new residents arriving in recent years, and a potential for far more as families look increasingly outside of Calgary or Airdrie for more affordable housing, Irricana would seem ideally situated to fill that demand– if it could get new homes built in the first place.

“It almost seems like when a property goes on the market that generally within two to three weeks it is sold,” he said. “So there's a real interest in coming to our town.”

On the planning side of things, Hafichuk is confident the community’s new land use bylaw and other supporting elements, such as a Municipal Planning Commission, will make a real difference in helping the community navigate growth in the coming years.

“That was a consolidation of some previous efforts which, you know, give us a nice clean simplified land use bylaw to guide development,” he stated. 

Bryson agreed with Hafichuk, and credited his council for putting in productive work this year to help prepare the town for growth. He said one great initiative in this respect was Deputy Mayor Julie Sim’s and Coun. Nathanial Fleming’s work to establish a new chamber of commerce for the community in 2023. Bryson also was pleased the Town renewed its relationship with the Rocky View Handi Bus Society coming into 2024 to help out local residents that way. 

Hafichuk agreed the handi bus agreement went part and parcel with a busy year for the local FCSS, which hosted over two dozen events, as well as work done by Community Links and the Irricana Boys and Girls Club. 


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