Coming into its 102nd year, the Village of Beiseker has reached an important crossroads in its development.
According to Mayor Warren Wise, the community is facing severe inflationary pressures, continues to be responsible for an airport that is increasingly costly and in need of major improvements, and is staring out at a virtually empty west-side development. Something has got to give, says Wise, and council will simply not be able to hold the line on taxes for the coming year.
“It’s not just from a council standpoint, but from everyone’s standpoint,” Wise told Rocky View Weekly in a recent interview. “We haven’t yet set our tax rate for the coming year– that comes up around May. I am sure there will be an increase in taxes. We are going to try to keep that to a minimum, but everything is costing more to operate. That has to reflect back into the tax revenues."
Wise said council has been working hard to address the most important needs of the community today, including bringing in flood mitigation measures to prevent what happened in 2018 from happening again when local flooding caused such widespread damage. But budget pressures in the community have forced council to take a go-slow approach in implementing some of the more expensive measures, said Wise.
“Of course, there will be some large financial impacts on that (flood mitigation), and we are just looking to see where we can do improvements in what we can afford right now,” he explained. “And where we will find money to continue those improvements in the coming years.”
In terms of the airport, Wise said council has given more time for users to get together to form an association to run it, but can no longer afford unlimited patience.
“The problem we have is in a village of 800 people we don’t have the administration and the know-how to properly run an airport,” Wise stated. “Unfortunately, there are some factions out there that are at odds with each other, and we have been trying to facilitate it so that it would work better for everybody. So far, we haven’t had any real luck with it. And, quite frankly, in the long run– if we don’t see some improvement out there we have thought about just selling it, and getting it off our books.
“It’s not a huge moneymaker for the Village at all,” he added, “and it is a bit of a headache.”
In terms of the Village’s west-side development, Wise is cautiously optimistic.
“We have a development on the west side of the village that has been in limbo for about 10 years,” he stated. “And toward the end of 2022, it got purchased and is being rebranded. And hopefully, we are going to see some housing built out there. There is room for 70 dwellings to be built, and over the past 10 years only three of them have actually been constructed.”
New housing will be key to attracting new residents to the community over the long term, said Wise, and with new housing, perhaps new industries to follow which would create more local employment opportunities.
“We would like to attract some development in the way of commercial development if we can,” he said. “We would like to see some moderately, light industrial-type activity here, or more transport activity.”
Wise said there were some really positive things that happened in Beiseker over the past year despite the difficult economic environment residents faced. Wise points to the Village’s much-delayed centennial celebrations, (on hold since 2021), as a highlight of the year, and new management taking over the community’s only grocery store.
“The new owners have injected a lot of goodwill and good feeling in the village,” he stated. “People are now shopping there like crazy as compared to before.”
Wise also praised his fellow councillors for meeting the challenges of 2022 head-on.
“We have been quite fortunate for a small village to have a council, during my tenure anyway, that has worked together very well,” he said. “We have accomplished a number of things over a period of time such as improvements in roads, and all of your infrastructure-type things. There is obviously more to do, but we have made good headway on getting some of this stuff done. And look forward to getting more of it done [in 2023].”