Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer feels Swift Current has a lot to be excited about heading into a new year.
During an address to close the final Swift Current City Council meeting of 2012 back on Dec. 10, Schafer shared his optimism towards what he is anticipating to be an exciting 2013.
"I think we've got a great base heading into the new year. We've got a lot of momentum going on. And I think one of the most important things that we can do as a council and as a community is do all that we can to continue to move that momentum going forward. And I think it's going to be a very exciting next couple of years in Swift Current - a) because we'll have lots of reasons to celebrate and look back and remember the past, but I think we're going to continue with lots of development moving forward."
He said that capitalizing on the momentum following a year where the city recorded an all-time record year in building permit activity at over $82.3 million, is a focus moving forward.
"Sometimes I think it seemed like a relatively quiet year because we had no major floods or no major real disasters to deal with, but $82 million in construction, a record year, I think that's pretty significant,"
Schafer said that telling statistic is a positive for the community moving forward as it shows the overall confidence in Swift Current.
"I greatly appreciate those business owners who continue to invest in our community. Those investors who are putting their dollars into our community. And of course our residents that continue to put their dollars at work. Fifty-one housing starts in Swift Current, I think that's pretty significant, especially when it seems like globally things are so uncertain right now that things are still pretty strong here."
To help continue the momentum, Schafer will be completing the formation of a Local Economic Development Committee which he first announced in late 2012. This group will include a series of successful business people from both the City and the surrounding RM.
"I'm certainly very excited in the new year to get started with our Local Economic Development Committee," Schafer said. "We're going to do everything that we can to grow this region, and that group is going to be very much focussed on helping us do that."
He pointed out a number of important projects from the past year, including starting construction on two new schools, the start on a Personal Care Home which will bring this much needed service to Swift Current, plus renovations and adding new units through Prairie Pioneers Independent Housing.
One of the downtown related topics they will have to deal with in 2013 is the opportunity to purchase the existing CPR buildings. In late 2012, City Council approved $87,745 for a feasibility study to explore the potential of purchasing three properties associated with the CPR Station and turning the location into a Municipal Heritage Site.
"It wasn't that long ago that it was our downtown business owners who had concerns with not enough commitment to the downtown core. And now I think that when you talk to most of them they're pretty excited about what's coming forward, with the development of the Market Square, of course the lighting downtown looks fantastic, investments in the Lyric Theatre. There's more reason than ever to be in downtown Swift Current, and I think that's the most important thing for a business owner downtown, and we continue to work towards making that happen."
"I can't wait for the Lyric Theatre to have that new look on the outside of it, to take us back a little bit, and clean-up some of that 80s exterior that's on there."
Schafer is also hoping for a final resolution to the annexation issue with the RM of Swift Current.
"I'm hopeful that this is going to finally put that to rest and we can move on as a region from there and focus on economic development and growing things moving forward."
One of the areas of importance the city is putting a focus on is transportation.
"I know that's become a big concern with residents as we continue to move forward with development in the Northeast corner of our city, with the integrated facility but also with the amount of new development that we have for our seniors. And of course the Premier has announced that we're looking forward to a long term care facility, with some finalization coming forward. We have made several strides in transportation over the last year, and I think that's going to be something that is going to go a long way in alleviating a lot of the anxieties and fears that come with some of the growth and development challenges that we face. And I think transportation is going to get better in Swift Current, not only public transit, busing, but also other means, biking and things like that, and we'll see some clarity there."
Schafer, who earned a second term as Swift Current mayor by acclamation during the municipal elections in the fall, is looking forward to working with the new council on their first municipal budget this spring.
"I'm very excited for the next four years and what's to come. 2013 is our 99th year and we're getting ready for our centennial, and I think it's going to get busier than ever as we approach that."
"Most of all I want to thank all of our residents and businesses, in not only Swift Current but in this region, who continue to work very hard through volunteering, or reinvesting and making sure that this is a community that I think continues to be the best spot in Saskatchewan."