2020 was a year like no other. What started off as a typical year was quickly disrupted as the world collectively watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold.
In March, we dealt with the closures of many businesses, schools, daycares and even our own Red Deer County buildings. This was a situation many, including myself, have never had to deal with. As a Council, we decided to help our residents and business owners that were struggling by offering an option to defer utility and property tax payments. Our hope was to alleviate some financial stresses as our entire Province waited with uncertainty.
During this time, County staff did not skip a beat, regardless of how the pandemic was affecting their personal lives. Whether they were working from home, with or without children, at the County Centre or out in the field, many pre-approved projects still moved forward. Some of these included the intersection at McKenzie Road and Range Road 273, a new Gasoline Alley Entrance Sign, the Springbrook Water Treatment Plant and Booster Station, Phase 2 development at Junction 42, three bridge replacements and one bridge rehabilitation, the Springbrook Family Resource Centre, Fiber Optic installation to assist with rural internet and the opening of the Gasoline Alley Indoor Farmers’ Market. When the weather warmed up, which was a great blessing for those who had been home for weeks on end, our Agriculture staff worked hard to maintain the beautiful agriculture land, roadways, parks and open spaces throughout the entire County.
Unfortunately, social restrictions caused the cancellation of some major events that many look forward to each year. These included the Rural Beautification Tour, Agri-Trade, Volunteer Appreciation Night and the Canadian Finals Rodeo. Even with today’s greatest technologies, these events are not the same online as they are in person. We look forward to connecting in person at these events in the future.
In an attempt to lift spirits, the #StayHome Superheroes program launched. This program was implemented to recognize the efforts that were being made to protect others by staying home during birthdays with a drive-by visit from the County’s first responders. To assist those needing a healthy meal while isolating, the Community Services department began a Meal Delivery Program, where staff and volunteers deliver frozen meals to residents of Red Deer County and neighbouring municipalities. To find out more about these programs, as well as others the County is offering during these difficult times, please visit our website.
On a better note, 2020 marked the 50th anniversary of this very paper – Red Deer County News. The July issue featured a look at what the world was like in 1970 and we sure have come a long way. I hope this paper is around for at least another 50 years and that you continue to count on it as a reliable source of County information.
Last month, the County received the Government Finance Officers Association award for financial reporting for the fifth year in a row. This is a tremendous achievement and a reflection of how hard we all work to be transparent with our budget.
Looking forward, in October 2021, we will have our municipal general election. Our website will be updated with all of the necessary tools to help you make an informed decision and vote for whom you choose.
I am very proud of and grateful for our staff and Council that have worked exceptionally hard this year. It has been a challenging road but their dedication and determination made this year a success like all others. The highlights I mentioned are just a few of what was achieved in 2020, so I encourage you to read this special Year in Review issue of County News, which features a more in-depth look at each department.
While we are still dealing with the uncertainty of COVID-19, I am hopeful that 2021 will be a great year. If you are in need of support during these challenging times, please reach out. County staff are available by calling 403.350.2150 or visit www.rdcounty.ca and click on the COVID-19 page.
We are all in this together. I wish each and every one of you good health, happiness and a safe year ahead.