Airdrie-Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie looks forward to putting 2020 behind us and is greeting 2021 with a glimmer of optimism.
While the challenges for Alberta stacked up as 2020 progressed, he believes we're ending the year on a positive note with the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine and a rise in oil prices.
"It was a very challenging year for a lot of people," says MLA Guthrie. "We've had economic challenges because of COVID, because of an oil price war that ensued causing major issues in our energy markets, and then the overall downturn in our economy causing recession pressures.
"I'm really looking forward to 2021 and putting 2020 behind us. I'm obviously a lot more optimistic about 2021."
He believes the economic platform put in place over the last few sessions by the Alberta Government will bear fruit when the economy begins to recover.
He points to dropping the corporate tax rate to eight per cent from 12 as one of the most significant changes. It leaves Alberta with the lowest corporate tax rate in Canada and one of the lowest in North America. He says potential opportunities were beginning to emerge before the pandemic slowed the wheels of business.
"I do feel going into 2021, as we go into recovery, the bottom line is going to be very important. Profitable is going to be important, and companies are going to be looking for locations where they can thrive as a business.
"I think Alberta offering that kind of a low taxation rate will add to the diversification goals that we have here for Alberta, and that will open up job opportunities."
Throughout the year, Guthrie focused on several issues important to the Cochrane area.
The most common topic in town is the Hwy. 1A-22 interchange. Naysayers remain skeptical about the project being launched, but that's far from the case, says Guthrie. He says it's a complex project that involves many partners.
Guthrie says the Government of Alberta, Mayor Jeff Genung, and the town administration remain in constant contact on progress being made on finalizing the design to allow for the engineering to be completed.
He says there may be a minor redesign required, but doesn't believe it will hold up the project.
"I would not be surprised if we even started to see a little bit of work get done on those crossings in 2021."
He's also looking forward to the start of the Hwy. 1A twinning project along a segment of the highway through town. That project is being led by the town with some stimulus funding being provided by the province.
Guthrie has been attempting to draw attention to Rocky View Schools' need for more schools for modular. It's something he considers one of his high priorities for 2021.
Additionally, he sees housing as a challenge and points in particular to the need for more seniors accommodations.
"When we have a community as we do, and one that's in such a desirable location, people want to come here, people want to live here. A lot of retirees come here and that means that we need facilities for seniors. That's another area I've been focusing on and trying to bring attention to."
Throughout the year, Guthrie hosted many cabinet ministers throughout the constituency. Here in Cochrane, we've had visited from ministers of seniors and housing minister, labour and immigration, agriculture and forestry, finance, culture, multiculturalism & status of Women, as well as the transportation minister. Premier Jason Kenney visited Stoney Nakoda Nation and had a press conference scheduled here on Keystone XL that was moved to Calgary at the last moment due to poor travelling conditions.
"They must have been listening to us asking them to come out and give us some of their time because it is hard to come by."