Southeastern Alberta economy keeps growing

I am proud of Medicine Hat.

I love the people in the city and surrounding county, the landscape and the opportunities our area provides for youth, families and seniors.

It is a city of industry and innovation. A city with self-determination. Most importantly, Medicine Hat is my home where my wife and I raised our family of four daughters.

As Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, I hold a particular role in the Assembly. As MLA for Medicine Hat, I am the elected representative for this riding just like any other Member of the Legislature. The role as MLA is one I take seriously and I work to represent the interests of this city as much as possible.

One of my responsibilities as Speaker is to greet and receive incoming diplomatic representatives from countries across the globe. When I do so, I extend an invitation to visit our city I show these consul generals and ambassadors a large landscape picture of Medicine Hat and encourage them to experience the beauty of our city, the kindness of the residents and the opportunities across southeastern Alberta.

So it has been with great pain that over the past few years I have heard some voices in our community suggest our area is in economic ruin. It is with distress that I have seen people continue this narrative in spite of the positive signs of economic growth in southeastern Alberta.

These individuals have hitched their wagon to a negative tale of economic woe about our city and region. They do so in spite of positive signs of a healthy, dynamic and growing community.

As someone who has lived in Medicine Hat for nearly five decades, raised my family in this city and worked to improve the quality of life for its residents over the course of my professional life, I understand the boom and bust cycle of Alberta‘s economy.

In 2015, Alberta went from boom to bust.

But we are now emerging from that downturn.

We are seeing a diversity of investment in our city and area coming from the agricultural, industrial and energy sectors.

Schools, roads and infrastructure is being built for future generations of Hatters.

Private sector investment has seen Medicine Hat go through a mini building boom in the past two years and we know more investments have been recently announced.

Utility-scale renewable energy projects representing thousands of megawatts of electricity capacity are being proposed across southeastern Alberta and the area continues to have abundant natural gas and oil resources. These resources are seeing our city become Energy Central in the province.

Alberta‘s economic foundations are built on a dependence on oil and gas revenue. But residents of this province are realizing the need to diversify our economy.

So for those who continually wallow in the darkness despite the sun rising on a new economic era for our region, I will provide one piece of advice: It is not too late to see the light.

First published June 22, 2018, in the Medicine Hat News.