At the last meeting of Council, the community’s Strategic Plan was reviewed. The five-year plan was developed in 2017 with resident input and identifies five municipal priorities each with strategic planning directives to help Council address community priorities.
Business Development (MUNICIPAL PRIORITY)
Town Council has added two brand new business retention and expansion incentives, including the New Business Vacant Commercial Property and New Business, Existing Building OR Existing Business, Existing Building, New Owner. Council has also made significant changes to the Facade & Site Improvement Incentive Policy to help business owners enhance the physical appearance of the exterior of their buildings.
In 2017, Council hired Economic Development Officer (Lindsay Alliban) and appointed an Economic Development Committee. The EDC advises Council, on matters that foster and enhance business retention and expansion in the community. In 2018, Council participated with the Economic Development Committee in the Thrive Sask Program. The Program was a planning and visioning workshop that helped identify a number of short and long term initiatives that will help improve the local business economy. Council will continue to work with and support the committee to help them achieve the short and long-term goals identified in the Thrive Sask Planning sessions.
While we have had some setbacks in the downtown with the destruction of the Clarendon Hotel, we have seen some positives. Last year, we were pleased to see Trappers Autotech and Last Chance Bar and Grill set up business and the Pioneer Co-op expansion that allowed for the addition of the Liquor Store. This year Hunts Hunting Supplies opened its doors, and Tayberries will reopen under a new name in the coming weeks.
INFRASTRUCTURE (MUNICIPAL PRIORITY)
Infrastructure is always a major challenge for all municipalities because it is aging and expensive to maintain and/or replace. Municipal priorities include making improvements to streets, water and wastewater, sidewalks, and landfill to meet current and future needs.
Council is continuing recapping and crack sealing of streets. The Centennial Place Subdivision is now 70% full and Council will be exploring options for completing paving curb and gutter in the near future.
Sidewalk trip hazards were addressed in 2016, and the Council is committed to resurfacing failing sidewalks with the rubber compound used in front of the town hall. The compound is affordable and resurfacing will continue this year in the downtown area.
This year Council is working on a plan to apply for a grant that will go towards upgrades at the water plant to help improve water quality. The last pit at the landfill will soon be full and it will be converted to a transfer station later this year.
The Community Plan is being completed by our engineers and will be completed his year.
RECREATION FACILITIES AND SERVICES (MUNICIPAL PRIORITY)
Council installed a backup generator at the Community Hall last year. This year we are looking at options to improve water drainage, repair the eavestrough and pave the parking lot. The Elks Hall was recently turned back to the town and will have its roof repaired to help preserve the building for many years to come. Little Green on the Prairie Park will have its aging picnic tables replaced with new ones.
Council also has plans to relocate the Campground from its current location to the parcel of land west of Mcgillvary Avenue. The new location will provide for a modern campground with larger campsites and amenities for campers. We will start this year planting trees to establish a shelterbelt at the proposed site. Over the next few years, more trees will be added to help establish the campground. Before the project can be completed an abandoned oil well at the site will need to be removed. Once the well has been removed further steps to complete the relocation of the campground will be completed. The relocation of the campground will provide the town with the next subdivision once the Centennial Place Subdivision is full.
Council recently created the Recreation Advisory Committee and gave it a broad mandate to advise the Council on what the community needs in terms of recreational programs and facility improvements. The Recreation Advisory Committee will be comprised of urban and rural residents who are actively involved in recreation. By expanding the membership to allow for more resident participation the community will benefit from the input and ideas from people involved in recreation in the community.
The committee is currently working on a creating a Disk Golf Course and will be exploring options for the creation of a community walking path. I would encourage anyone (urban or rural residents) that has an active interest in recreation if Gull Lake to consider joining this committee.
TOURISM INVENTORY (MUNICIPAL PRIORITY)
One of the Strategic Directives of this priority was to host signature events and look for partnership opportunities with the Cypress Hills Destination Area. The Tourism and Event Planning Committees with the help of the Cypress Hills Destination Area has done a great job growing the annual Winterfest Event over the past few years. The Economic Development Committee is currently planning to hold it’s second annual Summer Solstice Event has helped to create the annual Winterfest and Summer Solstice Event.
CULTURE AND HERITAGE (MUNICIPAL PRIORITY)
The Heritage Committee identified the Wong Guy Shoe Shop and Elks Hall as heritage properties. Both buildings have been declared Heritage Properties, and now the Committee is focusing on the restoration of the Shoe Shop.
The Strategic Plan is reviewed and updated annually to help keep the community on the path to sustainability. Our residents and Advisory Committees are key to providing input and helping with the completion of planning directives. I encourage anyone interested in helping shape the future of our community to consider participating on one of our Advisory Committees.