Incumbent councilor, Alex Reed, believes his business expertise and years of experience will continue to serve Cochrane well if voters check his name off Oct. 18.
Reed, who grew up in Toronto, said he spent many summers working on his grandparents’ farm in Northern Saskatchewan, which played a part in his move to Alberta.
“I always had a desire to come west and my career as a post-secondary administrator, a vice-president at universities led me to becoming one of the founding members of Athabasca University,” he said.
Reed stayed in Athabasca, serving on its town council as a deputy mayor for nine years.
He and his family later moved to Cochrane, where Reed and his wife had plans to retire and become avid golfers.
“We spent a year golfing and realized that neither of us was going to get good at it,” he said. “To be candid, it was really a strain on our relationship even though we’ve been married 46 years.”
It was his wife’s decision to go back to work as special education teacher that led Reed to become involved with a non-profit organization that helps special needs children and their families.
Reed put his MBA to use, helping grow the non-profit from a valuation of $1 million to $11 million in 10 years, expanding its supports from 60 families to 600 and allowing the organization to employ over 200 people.
Reed also had a desire to get more involved locally.
“Because I wanted to get involved in the community, I volunteered to be a public member on the Cochrane Planning Commission and after one year, I was voted in as chair,” he said. “I did that for several years and then realized all the recommendations that we were making to the then town council were kind of falling on deaf ears.”
Reed said one of the recommendations was for better community access, like in neighborhoods such as Fireside and Sunset that have only one roadway in and out.
“I felt strongly that there should be better planning so that’s why I ran for council. I’ve been here 10 years and we’ve probably doubled in our population. Cochrane is continuing to pass through this threshold of an exciting future. But it’s one where we’re needing people with experience. That’ll make the big difference.”
Reed currently sits on the board of the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Centre as well as the Parks and Recreation Committee. He said the Spray Lake Sawmills facility is a success and is excited about planning for the Horse Creek Sports Park.
Reed said Cochrane needs people on council who are always thinking and planning ahead.
“In many ways, the town has just not been able to keep pace with the growth and the subsequent consequences that come with that,” he said. “I think we need to continue to look to the future to do more about traffic volumes, recreation needs. I don't know if any other candidates are talking about it, but I worry about water supplies and sewage.”
As an advocate for health care and EMS coverage, Reed rang the alarm four years ago when the province made the decision to regionalize ambulance services.
“You can't get an ambulance here at Cochrane,” he said. “So, what's happened is now we've had to hire more firefighters or fire personnel because they're taking over what should be the provincial service attributed to ambulances.”
One of the qualities Reed believes makes Cochrane so valuable is its ability to offer the many services that it does while keeping taxes relatively low compared to other municipalities.
“We’ve kept taxes very low,” he said. “In fact, we probably have the lowest taxes in any community this size in Alberta. Yet, we continue to provide the level of service and support to members of our community that they need, so those are the kinds of things I’m proud of and will continue to work toward.”