SUNDRE — Silver linings might seem hard to find in the middle of a global health crisis, but Town of Sundre Mayor Terry Leslie believes there are reasons to be positive.
“There’s a need for optimism for the future,” Leslie said last week.
Looking ahead to 2021, he said celebrating the accomplishments of the past year might help mend some of the divisions that have surfaced.
“When we’re all kind of isolated, we get a little critical and judgmental sometimes,” he said.
But a lot of groundwork has been laid to pave the way for progress in the new year, he said.
Perhaps one of the most important upcoming projects is the ongoing effort to upgrade the municipality’s wastewater treatment lagoon, he said.
The municipality recently submitted an application to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for a green municipal fund in the amount of $500,000, he said.
“And the intent is to do a pilot project using some new technology for wastewater treatment. This is an innovative opportunity for us as the Town of Sundre to potentially put together a wastewater treatment option that will be transformational in terms of how we deal with wastewater,” he said.
“We’ve been working on it for two years with some private folks that have some technology that’s protected. So, we can’t get into all the details,” he added.
“There’s been two years of work behind the scenes to try and look way into the future and reduce the costs for operations as well as the costs for construction for wastewater treatment in Sundre and area.”
Yet while everybody loves being able to flush a toilet on demand, few tend to preoccupy themselves with where the waste goes and how it’s treated, he said.
“But in municipal government, it’s a great big deal to figure out how to make sure you’re environmentally complying with all of the regulations, and even looking into the future. The future for wastewater treatment is going to be treating for pharmaceuticals (and) protecting the water that goes back in the pristine Red Deer River. That’s a huge project for us,” he said.
Potentially reaching a cost of upwards in the range of $14-million, Leslie said the municipality is looking for ways to reduce that expense by using new technology, and hopes the pilot project gets the green light in 2021.
Additionally, courtesy of provincial stimulus funds, the municipality has two projects that will be pushing forward in the coming year, he said.
Those are the repaving of Centre Street from the Main Avenue-Highway 27 intersection south to the Greenwood Community Campground, as well as the first phase to begin plans for developing a four-season campground and recreational area.
The objective behind both projects is not only to increase tourism and support local businesses, but also to provide additional amenities that will benefit residents as well, he said.
Although the pandemic has created some major hurdles, the mayor remains optimistic.
“We all know that we’re going to come out the other side of this COVID time,” he said.
“The community spirit that’s been demonstrated through the challenges that we’ve faced as a community, has been remarkable. We all have a choice: to be positive or negative. There’s really no choice in my mind, because why would you choose to be negative?”
Throughout these challenging times, he said there has been no shortage of inspirational individuals and organizations who have really stepped up.
This past year provided a unique opportunity to pause, sit back, look and reflect about what’s important, “and 2021 will give us that courage to know that we’ve been resilient,” he said.
“If we choose to be optimistic and filled with hope for our future, 2021 is going to be a remarkable year.”