Chief among many recent issues, problems regarding rural ambulance service in the province will top Bikman’s agenda early in the new year.
“The ongoing issue with rural ambulance, we think we’ve made a little progress. We finally appear to have gotten through and have helped Minister Horne and his bureaucracy recognize that rural Alberta needs good health care as well as ambulance and first responder care. It’s vastly different from what exists in Calgary and Edmonton,” said Bikman.
“But we see the PC government focusing their attentions on keeping Calgary and Edmonton happy, and it’s almost like they’ve abandoned the rest of the province in terms of really listening, and addressing the legitimate needs that rural Alberta has.”
Local school infrastructure in various jurisdictions spread throughout the riding is in need of upgrade.
“We’re hoping we can get the education minister to recognize the need to modernize some of the local schools in our riding. I’ve talked to Minister Johnson about some of these issues,” said Bikman.
Ensuring the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan doesn’t unduly interfere with the utilization of privately-owned property will also be key.
“On an ongoing basis, we certainly want to make sure that the South Saskatchewan Regional Plan doesn’t tread heavily on local decision making, and the rights of farmers and local residents to use their property in its highest and best use. We’ll be watching and monitoring that very closely.”
The local oil and gas industry could also benefit from some stimulation in future, added Bikman.
“I think the fact that we see the oil industry, and with natural gas prices the way they are, we’re seeing less drilling in our rural area and throughout the province. I’m hoping we can do things that will help and encourage and stimulate our own local oil industry, and the service companies that surround it.”
On the agricultural front, irrigation issues will remain a main area of concern for residents in 2014.
“Agriculture issues will remain important, that we have access to the water that we need for irrigation, and rural development,” said Bikman.
“I’ll be continuing to work more on property rights because property rights are not just a farm and ranch issue, it affects all of us. Everything that you and I work and save money for and buy, is our property. It’s one of the main issues that got Wildrose elected in rural Alberta, and certainly one of the main issues that comes up when I talk to people.”