Town council has endorsed five top priorities in lobbying the provincial government and a community campaign to inform and involve the community in the advocacy.

Water licensing, community infrastructure, roadway, health care EMS, and education are targeted areas in discussions with provincial officials.

The town has made application to the Alberta government to transfer of the use of 4.4 million cubic metres of water from the Girl Guides of Canada. They hold a licence for its 84-acre Camp Jubilee along the Bow River within town limits.

Should that transfer be approved, the agreement calls for the town to provide water and wastewater servicing to Camp Jubilee. The proposed 2024-26 town budget calls for an expenditure of $550,000 to design the servicing in 2024 and $7.35 million to build it in 2025.

What the town is asking of the province is to approve the additional water licences and assist Cochrane with the associated costs of acquiring water licences and constructing a new water treatment plant.

It also asks the province to review its water management strategy to increase the availability of water and water licences to Alberta municipalities.

It's also calling for further expenditures totalling $11.88 million over three years to acquire further water licences.

To assist Cochrane with rapid growth, it's calling for additional funding for recreational facilities, seniors housing, affordable housing and to consider a second Community Revitalization Levy or similar funding, to stimulate revitalization of Cocharne's downtown.

The town will continue to advocate for further upgrades to Hwy. 22 from the new interchange, currently under construction, south to James Walker Trail.

Councillor Tara McFadden appreciated how the priorities include areas outside of the municipality's responsibilities.

"Education and health are outside of our jurisdiction but I think this certainly recognizes that both community and our provincial and federal partners realize we do have a voice in advocating for these solutions, so I really appreciate them in being deliberate in advocating for our residents," said McFadden.

The advocacy priorities call for the urgent care centre to become a 24/7 operation and for improvements to the ambulance system to ensure acceptable access by residents.

It also seeks more new schools to ease the overcrowding of local schools and to adjust operating and maintenance funding to ensure real costs are met.

Mayor Jeff Genung says he has been in regular discussions with local MLA Peter Guthrie, also Infrastructure minister, on the priorities.  

The community campaign is slated to begin in mid-January to inform and empower residents to become involved in the advocacy.

Councillor Marni Fedeyko emphasized the importance of involving the public.

"We've all seen over the past number of years, it's not just about us sitting around a table, or advocating as councillors and mayor, it's really about involving the community, and I'd like to see what that looks like as a council member."

The priorities were previously discussed at a council committee-of-the-whole meeting in October.

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