Mayor Jim Bryson of Irricana said he is hoping the town will be putting a turbulent year behind it, and everyone in the community will put their best foot forward in 2023.
Referring to the untimely death of former CAO Barrie Hutchinson, the political turbulence that saw two by-elections called to replace resigning councillors less than one year into their term, and ongoing legal disputes with certain residents of the small community, Bryson hopes for better in the coming year.
“I would like to see all the shenanigans that have gone on end,” he told the Rocky View Weekly in a recent year-end interview. “It’s a good town. People here help each other. As far as I am concerned, it is an ideal place to live.
“I would like to see in 2023 a nice harmony among our residents. No more of this bickering. I am hoping as 2022 goes away, it ends.”
Bryson admitted he was not likely to get his wish entirely, but hoped residents of the community would at least be able pull together to address the financial challenges facing the community.
“Like everything in Alberta, and the entire country, costs have gone up,” he stated. “Our taxes for next year will be going up, but that [amount] hasn’t been determined. We passed an interim budget to keep the Town rolling. I don’t imagine administration will be bringing a [final] budget to council until the end of March. We will wait until this year (2022) reconciles, and we will see what money is needed to move forward. All I am relatively sure of is the taxes will be going up.”
Bryson said council will do its best to lessen the impact on residents, but there is no sugar-coating it either: Council will need to address inflation-driven shortfalls and all the unanticipated costs which arose in the community in 2022 in its 2023 budget.
“We had a lot of costs that weren’t budgeted, and you couldn’t foresee the CAO passing away and what not,” he said. “We are just going to have to grin and bear it and move forward. We will limit the cost to taxpayers as much as possible, but we still have to maintain services and other cost increases that have to be incurred.”
On a more optimistic note, Bryson said some good came out of the political turbulence of the past year in the election of a group of councillors who he feels are willing to roll up their sleeves to work hard together to put the good of the community first.
“Everybody is there to benefit the town– to do what we can to grow our town,” he said.
According to Bryson, part of that agenda for putting the good of the town first is for council to push for new housing development and business attraction to the community.
“We have a developer who owns a bunch of land on the east side, and he has been coming and going,” stated Bryson. “We would really like to see something positive to come out of those 80 acres [in 2023]. I would also like to see some more businesses come into town. I think that will happen when the development on the east side of town moves forward. I think if we had more housing, we would have more people willing to move here because we are so close to Calgary.”
All in all, Bryson said he is looking forward to what big things 2023 may bring to his small community.
“I think I see good things for the town,” he said. “I am very encouraged.
“All we can do is look to the future, and make things better.”