With Fort Macleod’s population expected to grow by 30 to 60 per cent, opportunities are limitless.
That was the message Mayor Shawn Patience brought to Fort Macleod Chamber of Commerce’s monthly meeting last week.
Close to 20 local business leaders attended to meeting in the Green Room of the Empress Theatre last Thursday.
“Fort Macleod was already in the midst of a growth spurt and that was going to continue whether we were successful or not,” Patience said in reference to last month’s announcement Fort Macleod would host the Alberta Police and Peace Officer Training Centre. “However this particular project is going to drive and increase that very prolifically.”
Patience said the town office had already been inundated with calls from out-of-town investment firms and individuals wanting to buy or set up businesses and buy or build homes in the community.
“That is something we’ve never had before,” Patience said. “It’s an exciting challenge but one that takes planning so that while in the midst of development we don’t lose what we have and that we can build upon it.”
Patience said while Fort Macleod will see outside investors come into town over the next one or two years to set up shop, there are also opportunities for those who have grown up or lived here.
“They are far-reaching in the service sector,” Patience said, pointing to the need for more hotel and motel space and other opportunities such as entertainment and the restaurant industry.
“If they believe there’s an opportunity to invest, now is the time to do that rather than waiting until the college comes,” Patience said. “That will put you way at the back of the line.
The opportunities are out there and I want you to identify them.”
As an example of one such opportunity Patience said with 1,500 trainees here each year there is an excellent opportunity for a dry-cleaning business in town again.
“We’ve got a lot of smart individuals, a lot of industrious individuals in this community and there are certainly lots of avenues for opportunity,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon us to take advantage of some of the opportunities now in front of us so we can not only benefit as a town but also as local investors. A lot of people have gone through periods of very little opportunity for advancement and now it’s right in front of us.”
Patience said the construction of the training centre along with the changes to the highway in the next three to five years will present opportunities no one has ever imagined.
“It’s time to put your thinking caps on, do your homework and look for the opportunities,” he said.
Patience reported several other changes will be seen around town, including some policy shifts for town council that will see commercial and residential land policies tightened up.
The proposed 36-lot subdivision on the east end of town by Macleod Pioneer Lodge already has 32 letters of intent and Patience said council must be cautious how they deal with them. “It’s not our intent to use tax dollars to provide services for residential properties and then have them sit there for a year before anyone considers developing them,” he said. Patience also said development near the golf course may also go ahead soon and that there has been a lot of interest in industrial and light industrial properties, something the town has not experienced recently.
“Fort Macleod is on the provincial map even moreso than we were with our history and we are seeing investors call us from Ontario to B.C.,” he said. “It’s a very exciting time and we have a lot to look forward to.”
The town will also have to look after some infrastructure issues, including a new water treatment facility, which are all a part of where Patience sees Fort Macleod down to the line, with a population of between 4,500 and 5,000.
“Fort Macleod has been put on the map like never before,” he said. “To say it’s an exciting time in Fort Macleod is a serious understatement. The opportunities are boundless.”