New council hitting the ground running

By Geoff Lee

November 3, 2016 12:00 AM

Gerald Aalbers

Lloydminster Mayor elect, Gerald Aalbers and six councillors, including five first timers hope to hit the ground running in time for their first council meeting on Nov. 14.
To do that, they have to hit the books hard as Aalbers is already doing in advance of their swearing in ceremony on Nov. 7.
“I am reviewing all the information supplied by administration to the new council members, getting up to speed on the council meeting process and some of the things around the operations of the council,” said Aalbers on Tuesday.
He said there’s lot of information to wade through with a lot more coming forward.
Fortunately, Aalbers said the Saskatchewan and Alberta urban municipalities associations provide various training modules for individual elected officials to help them do a better job.
“So there will be studying afterwards as well, ongoing education I guess is the right word,” said Aalbers who is still trying to soak in his victory at the polls on the Oct. 26 municipal election.
He generated 4,081 votes to 1,781 for Jason Whiting and 207 for Cheryl Ross.
“There’s been a lot of people commenting and a lot of people have been very kind with their words and I hope they continue to be kind as we slowly move forward with events at City Hall,” he said.
Aalbers will oversee a council make up of veteran councillor and former mayor, Ken Baker and newcomers Jonathan Torresan, Michael Diachuk, Glenn Fagnan, Aaron Buckingham and Stephanie Brown Munro.
“A new council is in place to take the city forward,” said Aalbers.
His first order of city business will be the $4.5 million purchase of the former Synergy Credit Union building for the Community Hub project that he campaigned against.
The city announced it cancelled the purchase in a news conference on Tuesday, but there are unanswered questions as to any potential cost to the city for the cancellation.
Aalbers said an orientation for the new council starting on Nov. 8 would likely include an update on that project along with the status of the waste water treatment plant.
There’s no shortage of things he said to deal with.
“I think there will be some great discussion at city council and going forward with the administration on enacting what we’ve heard very clearly in the last 45 days or so,” he said.
The city’s orientation team will be assisted by former Coun. Linnea Goodhand who didn’t run for re-election as she is moving to the Edmonton area soon.
“I believe Linnea Goodhand is going to be there for a portion of the orientation next week,” said Aalbers.
“Until we get that first council meeting underway there will be a lot learning under everybody’s part on city council.”
Aalbers expects the orientation agenda will be packed full of information with updates provided from all departments.
“I expect an executive type summary as to what’s been happening and what’s been currently worked on,” he said.
“We’ll get a high level look at what’s currently happening and where they are going for direction.”
Aalbers will be at City Hall on Nov. 7 for some initial meetings ahead of the swearing in ceremony and will take over the mayor’s office on Nov. 8 from outgoing Mayor Rob Saunders.
He said he has not spoken with Saunders since election night and has yet to speak with his councillors individually.
“I saw most of them on election night, but I haven’t had an in-person talk to each of them yet,” he said.
He also noted he is in the process of giving his notice to his employer, Tervita as he begins his new job as full time mayor.
“We’ve come up with a transition plan and I will be giving formal notice here shortly,” he said.
Aalbers is stoked that he takes over as mayor with news that Husky Energy has started a feasibility study that would expand the capacity of the Lloydminster asphalt refinery.
“Any time it’s been reviewed and looked at and being considered in a feasibility study, which I believe is being conducted, that’s great news,” he said.
“Husky has made a huge investment in the area and if they want to build on that we’ll certainly work with them as best as we can from things in the city that we can assist with.”

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