Drive the Future of Hanna & Special Areas

Change starts with action!

In the news:

Coal Transition Community Update

On November 29th, over 130 residents from the Town of Hanna and Special Areas came together to listen to the Coal Transition Community Update. The evening began with the opportunity to mix and mingle, as well as a beautiful arrangement of snacks and refreshments.

Kim Neill, CAO Town of Hanna, emceed the event welcoming all in attendance and introducing the lineup of presenters. Chris Warwick, Mayor of the Town of Hanna, was first to present. Mayor Warwick provided an overview and history of the Climate Change Strategy Taskforce and provided a detailed update highlighting the diversity and magnitude of activities and initiatives they have been working on since late 2015. He stated “There has been a road map image of the journey created by Urban Systems. This visual snapshot of the last three years has been posted around the hall for your information.” Mayor Warwick shared with the audience the positive strides forward and the ongoing frustrations they have experienced along the journey. Jordon Christianson, Chair of Special Areas Board, joined Mayor Warwick at the podium, to provide a summary of the work that has been done on a community utilities project. The sole purpose of the project is to create a community fund to offset the impacts in the region. If the project is successful in it’s development, it would be the largest solar project in Canada. Mayor Warwick concluded his presentation with a quote from Sir Winston Churchill; “We shall never surrender”.

The next segment of the evening was dedicated to updates on two specific projects - the Youngstown Snowbird Land Development and the Community Action to Create Diversification. Shane Pospisil, from New West Opportunities, presented an introduction and scope of work for the Youngstown Snowbird Land Development project. He shared that Youngstown and area, have moderate-to-strong potential in the following industries - residential development, tourism and recreation, oil and gas servicing, machinery / equipment servicing, artisan / home based small business development, regional trucking, reloading and transportation logistics. They have created a website to promote and market the available opportunities in Youngstown and area.

Wayne Roberts, from Urban Systems, provided an overview of the Community Action to Create Diversification project and the steps taken to pivot and adjust plans as needed with the Taskforce to achieve desired outcomes. Roberts spoke to a specific piece of the puzzle, Private Sector Development. At the early stages of the Community Action to Create Diversification project, while building the Community Action Teams (CATs), it became evident that the large majority of ideas being brought forward were private business ventures. Urban Systems has created a Private Sector Development Brief. The purpose is to better understand the needs of the local business community, identify the existing business programs and services, identify the gaps and areas for innovation and present the data collected to the Taskforce and the service providers, so new programming can be shaped. The following recommendations have been made; capital required (seed and succession financing), build human capacities in business start-up, expansion and retention, celebrate existing businesses, address regulatory impediments, make starting and running a business a viable career creating an entrepreneurial and collaborative culture. During 2018, Urban Systems have been working with and training the Hanna Learning Centre on the Community Action Teams process.

Kim Neill introduced Doray Veno, Executive Director of the Hanna Learning Centre, to present current Community Action Team initiatives. Veno gave a background to Hanna Learning Centre’s involvement in this project sharing the outcomes from the February 12 and 15, 2018 public Drive the Future of Hanna and Specials Areas consultations. She explained what a Community Action Team is, who, why and when a CAT can be formed: “An ongoing process of solution-oriented individuals or organizations who act and take ownership to strengthen the community, by helping the community move towards one of these three strategic directions: 1) Build or strengthen local capacity 2) Mitigate impacts 3) Capitalize on future opportunities that will diversify the local economy. She stated that there have been over 240 meetings in relation to the project. Before introducing five of the CATs to present on behalf of their teams, she encouraged everyone in the room to take time later in the evening to read all the ideas brought forward that do not currently have an action team behind them. The following Community Action Teams made presentations: Livestock Hub (Dr. Tamara Quaschnick), Retire to Hanna (Craig Berke and Mark Nikota), Eden Alternative (Debbie James), Community Resilience (Becky Viste) and Support Local (Brenda Schnurer)

Neill wrapped up the formal part of the evening by thanking the community for attending and welcomed all to stay and ask questions and have further discussions with any of the presenters or individuals that have information tables set up around the facility. The information tables had representation from ATCO, Westmoreland, Climate Change Strategy Taskforce, Cactus Corridor Economic Development Corporation, New West Opportunities, Urban Systems, Hanna Learning Centre and five Community Action Teams.

For additional information on the Climate Change Strategy Taskforce contact Kim Neill, For additional information on the Community Action Teams contact Hanna Learning Centre,

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