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EDAC giving shoppers a say in what Cold Lake's missing

The Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) wants to know which businesses or brands residents want to see in Cold Lake.

The Economic Development Advisory Committee (EDAC) wants to know which businesses or brands residents want to see in Cold Lake.

The Rural Alberta Business Centre (RABC) presented the business survey to EDAC, after being asked by interested clients which businesses those living in the Lakeland want to see in their community.

From Sept. 30 to Oct. 17, residents living in and around Cold Lake are invited to submit their surveys which take anywhere between three to five minutes.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, Cold Lake City Council agreed to support and promote EDAC's survey.

Mayor Craig Copeland said the city hopes to learn a few things from the survey, including what residents believe the area is missing in terms of businesses and retail.

“If people feel there is a certain trade or retail industry that is missing in Cold Lake, then we can network out there and try and get those companies in Cold Lake.”

Copeland added that by bringing more businesses to Cold Lake, it could help keep residents shopping and staying in the area rather than driving to city centres such as Edmonton, which in turn benefits some of the current local businesses, and also helps with employment.

Small Business Advisor for the Cold Lake RABC Kathryn Hotte said she brought the idea to the EDAC after hearing time and time again from clients that they were interested in starting their own business, they just didn't know what the community wanted or needed.

“They were always concerned with what type of business they were opening, and they were asking me my advice… and it's not really up to me to say what the city should or shouldn't have in terms of business. I found over time that it was a question that would often get asked of me, so I thought, why don't we ask the community,” said Hotte.

This year alone, RABC has seen double the number of clients compared to last year; something Hotte believes is accredited to unemployment.

“People are looking for other options. In some cases, people have lost their jobs, and I think in a lot of cases they have been waiting, and finally the news has come down and they know where they stand,” she noted.

Hotte added, those who do come in have a newfound optimism towards the future, something those at RABC couldn't have seen coming.

“Even though you would think they would come in here with a frown on their face, they actually come in here with the weight lifted. Now they are looking at doing something else, and maybe it was something they have always wanted to do, but were never able to.”

The survey asks a few basic questions, including gender, marital status, age, approximate household income, the type of business respondents tend to spend money on each month, what types of businesses respondents would like to see in Cold Lake, and a place for comments such as specific franchises or business names.

This could help bring more business to the area, such as much the sought after Starbucks.

Copeland said residents who would like the city to look into getting a Starbucks franchise have approached him on several occasions, and this survey could help in doing that.

“If we had something to back us up, with a survey of some type, the (local) business could go back to the franchise and say, ‘look, I know you've done your research but we just did a recent survey, and our survey comes up with the fact that 5,000 people would be overjoyed with having you in our community,' then maybe they (the franchise) would rethink it,” Hotte said. “There's no guarantee that they would change their mind, but it is really good to know and to find out what our community wants.”

Hotte encourages all residents living in both Cold Lake and outside of the city limits to take part in the survey, so they too can have a say in what comes to the area.

“We have a lot of visitors coming in… and I think it would be interesting to see what everybody thinks,” she said. “We always have to think ahead… this is a good opportunity for the community to have a say about what they would like to see. Not this is what the developer would like to have or this is what the city would like to have. This is what we want to have.”

In terms of response rate, Hotte said, “the more numbers we have, the better it looks on paper,” to some of the franchises and possible future businesses.

“I would love to see people really embrace this.”

The survey is available on the City of Cold Lake website at, and on their Facebook page. Paper copies are also available at city hall.