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District leaders looking forward to year ahead

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On the heels of a pretty decent year across Rainy River District, local municipal leaders are looking forward to 2017.

“Hopefully it will be better, but it was good last year and the year before,” said Emo Mayor Jack Siemens, citing New Gold’s Rainy River Project as having been a positive factor in the district.

“I see new faces in town; I see people are building houses in the subdivision,” he noted.

“People are definitely spending money and I think the businesses are fairly busy.”

Mayor Siemens added the township is hoping for some new businesses to start up.

“We’d certainly welcome any new businesses that wanted to come into Emo,” he stressed.

“There’s always room for expansion.

“A couple new houses [are] going up in the Judson [Echo Lakes Estates] subdivision and the Kaemingh subdivision, too,” Mayor Siemens added.

“The new apartment is also completed and occupied, so that’s a nice little addition.”

He stressed 2016 was a busy year for Emo with water treatment plant and lagoon upgrades.

They also extended the water line east of Emo and upgraded the water lines so there are no dead ends.

“They’ve all been looped now so I think we’re pretty much done on that part,” said Mayor Siemens, noting he doesn’t anticipate any major projects—or challenges—for the township in 2017.

“I can see a bright future for Emo in the next year.”

Meanwhile, reeves in Alberton, La Vallee, and Chapple all agreed 2016 was a pretty good year.

“2016 went okay. There were no problems,” said Mike Hammond of Alberton.

“[It’s been] fairly good, no big bumps in the road,” echoed Chapple’s Peter Van Heyst.

“I think we had a good year,” said Ken McKinnon of La Vallee. “We accomplished some good community projects.

“We have done some major renovation work on our community hall, an upgrade on the parking facilities around the hall, trying to make the building more handicap-accessible, which I think is a big thing in our community,” he noted.

“We’re making progress, making improvements,” Reeve McKinnon said.

“You can’t just continue doing status quo,” he stressed. “You’ve got to continue making improvements or things tend to go backwards.”

Alberton saw the expansion of its Millennium Park with a net climber, benches, and picnic tables.

“It’s starting to shape up pretty good,” Reeve Hammond enthused, noting the township also celebrated its 125th birthday back in June.

Organized by the Alberton rec committee, the day-long celebration included a pancake breakfast, kids’ games, face-painting, a dunk tank, food vendors, and live music by local band “Centre-Line.”

“Lots of families were out enjoying the park,” Reeve Hammond said.

“And people have also been out enjoying the rink.”

Chapple, meanwhile, issued building permits for construction valued between $10 million-$11 million for large industrial and residential buildings in 2016.

“[The] majority of that was for large industrial,” Reeve Van Heyst noted.

“New Gold is still in the process of putting up some buildings.”

While neither municipality has any major projects planned, Reeve McKinnon has some issues he would like to address in La Vallee if it can acquire the funding.

“I would like to see continued improvements on our roads,” he noted.

“We do have several bridges that need repairs to them.

Another problem La Vallee would like to tackle is the railroad crossing there.

“This is something that has been on the agenda for a number of years,” Reeve McKinnon noted.

“Years ago there was a fatality at that crossing and it’s definitely something that should be addressed.

“But again, it’s going to depend a lot on the availability of funding and also partnering, probably, with the railroad company,” he reasoned.

“All we can do is do our best to make our things better for our people.”

The only work Alberton has planned for 2017 is the resurfacing of some of the township’s roads.

“We do it every four years and four years are up,” Reeve Hammond said.

Alberton also has seen a few new houses built there recently. And while there were no new businesses in 2016, the reeve said that’s okay.

“[Businesses] come and go while houses don’t,” he reasoned.

“It’s better to build on residential rather than business because when one [business] shuts down, that’s a big wallop.”

But Reeve Hammond believes the district is going to do just fine this year, with New Gold’s mine set to start production mid-year.

“It would have been pretty desperate otherwise,” he conceded. “I imagine we’ll pick up a few houses out of it.

“Everything helps,” Reeve Hammond added. “As long as we are expanding, that takes care of an increase in taxes.”

Chapple, meanwhile, hopes to see the arrival of a new fire truck in early 2017 and is looking for more volunteer firefighters.

“We have an active recreation committee that is making plans for [Canada’s] 150th birthday,” Reeve Van Heyst added.

“We want to wish all our residents a happy and prosperous new year, of course, and we hope everything will go good for us in the coming year,” he remarked.

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