Mayor of Esterhazy is proud of town’s accomplishments for 2022

January 4, 2023, 3:11 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

From left to right, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Mike Thorley, Councillor Randy Bot, Councillor Earl Nickel, Councillor Vernon Petracek, Councillor Maggie Rowland, Councillor Tenille Flick, Councillor Martin Pfeifer and (bottom) Mayor Grant Forster.

The Mayor of Esterhazy, Grant Forster, said he is proud of the community’s efforts for starting work on its water treatment plant this year. He also spoke about other highlights and challenges the Town of Esterhazy faced within the year of 2022, and what is in store for the future.

What were some of the highlights for the town this year?
The biggest thing for us is we finally broke ground on the water treatment plant. That’s been the proverbial thorn in our side for a lot of years because we knew we had to do something.

When we finally got approved for the grant, about a year and a half to two years ago, it just seemed like it was taking forever to see any progress, but we finally got some activity and now we’re close to having a building going up.

That was huge. That will be the big focus for us in the next couple of years, is making sure we get that project completed, as well, up and running, so we could have some water that people feel good about drinking and not have to worry that our water treatment system is failing. That for us, was the number one big news of the year.

In general too, things are starting to recover from Covid. There was a lot of good stuff that went on in town through the year where people started to come out again and show their support. It was nice to see.

We had a very successful Rockin’ the Park, and we’ve also had smaller activities around town that were absolutely successful.

People said they were tired of sitting at home and doing nothing and wanted to get involved again, and I think that was just awesome to see. It was a breath of fresh air to be able to start all over again.

What were some of the challenges the town faced this year?
The reduction in revenues from the government. It’s not a case where we were blindsided with it, we knew we were going to be getting less money from our potash revenue sharing and other stuff.

It’s just difficult to be able to maintain the level of services we’re expected to and required to maintain for our people, when you’re getting less money to do work with.

Nobody likes to raise taxes and we’ve tried to hold the line down. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to do it this year, but a small increase was better than a huge increase.

It just made it hard to be able to continue doing things, and going to ask people for more money to do those things. We never like to do it, but you have to at times. We did the best we could with it.

Was there anything council did not succeed in this year that you’re hoping to accomplish in 2023?
Our paving program, unfortunately, did not pan out the way we hoped. That was through no one’s fault, other than we found more requirements in rebuilding for some of our roads than we anticipated.

We planned to spend some money for paving and repaving on a number of roads, and, unfortunately, one section of pavement took up our whole budget.

The one street was almost four times more than we budgeted for, it pretty much ate up all of our paving budget.

To me, that was a little bit disappointing, but it’s something we hope to manage better in the coming years now that we’ve had that happen. We can sit back now and say, we need to look at this closer than we did.

Come this next spring when we’re planning on what we need to do, we know we have to be more investigative into the streets we want replaced, and come up with a more realistic budget.

Lesson learned and hopefully things will be better this upcoming year.

How does this year compare to last year?
I think they are very similar. Every year you have things that you don’t get done for one reason or another and you’re disappointed at the end of the year, but you also have things that turn out potentially better than you hoped for.

I don’t think we can say 2022 was a better or worse year. It was very much the status-quo in terms of comparing the two years, except we didn’t have that Covid headache anymore.

Five to ten years from now, what do you expect for the Town of Esterhazy?
Well, if things go the way we’re hoping they go, we’re hoping in 2023 we finally see an announcement for our hospital.

So then five to ten years from now, we hope we have the new health facility and long-term care home, and that we’ve taken steps to improve the town to go along with that.

We’ve got some plans in action that we hope to bring forward once we have an announcement on the hospital, in terms of some future development in and around the hospital.

I’d like to think that 10 years from now, that will come to fruition, that we will have some bigger and better things happening in town than we have here now, like increases in businesses, larger population, and just a general overall improvement of where we are today.

I’m looking forward to a good year ahead, in seeing continued improvement, and I’m excited to see what the future is going to bring for us.