CARSTAIRS - Lance Colby is running for a fourth term as mayor and is looking ahead, rather than resting on his laurels.
“I’m excited about the future because we’re getting close to the 5,000 mark now,” said Colby.
Managing growth will be the main issue the town will have to deal with over the next four years, he said.
According to the federal census, the town’s population in 2020 was 4,735 – an increase of 18.1 per cent over the previous five years.
At the 5,000 population mark, the town must sign a contract with the RCMP, start paying its share of policing costs included in that and provide an RCMP detachment.
While plans are already in works for a tri-services building – construction of the fire hall is underway – paying for some of what’s to come is a property tax issue.
The tax base, says Colby, is about 90 per cent residential and about 10 per cent commercial and industrial. Many municipalities strive to get closer to 70/30 ratio.
“We need to try and get more industrial, light industrial and commercial so we don’t have our tax base 90 per cent residential,” he said.
“It’s hard. We’re still a commuter community. A lot of people moved out here from Calgary, Airdrie etcetera and they still drive back to the city or Airdrie for their jobs. We’re still in that.”
That’s why attracting more commercial and industrial businesses is so important, he said.
“Instead of people travelling out of town to work, they can work in town and that enables them to support their family plus have a good job,” he said.
“I’m hoping as we hit the 5,000 mark and start going over that, that more light industrial will come out and take a look at us. We do have a lot of industrial land over on the east side set aside for that.
Managing residential growth is also a priority, said Colby.
Multiple developers are working in Carstairs now. Basements for homes in the Mandalay subdivision are under development and all 55 lots in the new Scarlett Ranch subdivision have been sold, said the mayoral hopeful.
“We’re still on growth but not like where we did 110 homes that year. That’s really too much for us. We don’t really have the capacity to handle that many,” said Colby. “Around 60 to 70 homes a year, we can easily handle that – all the infrastructure, the services.”
After three terms in office - his initial term was only a partial one starting in 2003, Colby said he did put thought into whether or not to run for re-election.
“I talked about it with people and people still think I can do the job,” he said. “I feel personally that I’m still up to it. I enjoy it and I’ve been here a long time. But I’m progressive. We’re not sitting back and saying look what we’ve done. We keep continually looking forward five to 20 years in the budget for long-term items.”