Houston calls it a mayoral career

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For two decades, Mayor Stuart Houston has dedicated his life to making Spruce Grove a better place to live.

Houston announced he will not be seeking another term in the upcoming municipal election this past week after 14 years as the mayor and another six as a councillor.

“I think it was the right time for me. For 14 years I’ve been really proud to be the mayor of this dynamic City. Being on council and having the opportunity to represent a City like Spruce Grove was an honour. Sometimes it’s time for politicians to step back and let another person have the opportunity to lead,” Houston said. “The best part for me is we have a lot of good people prepared to lead.”

In many ways, Houston has helped shape Spruce Grove into what it is today. He served as mayor during a time the population doubled from 14,000 to more than 30,000 residents, and was instrumental in multiple major developments.

It took Houston six years on council to help realize his goal of having a lighted football field in Spruce Grove with the opening of Fuhr Sports Park. After being elected mayor, Houston led councils navigated the waters of doing their part to bring projects like the Border Paving Athletic Centre, the Parkland RCMP detachment, or the City’s new public works building, to life.

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“Being a mayor you certainly have the opportunity to have a vision for how you would like to see your City grow. Looking back there were lots of huge projects that transformed our community… One of the big highlights for me took seven years of hard work behind the scenes, in the development of the Border Paving Athletic Centre. What the centre means to the community and the thousands of kids who will go through programs over the next few years is huge,” Houston said. “We saw some big new developments come to the City under my tenure and it was because of the investment confidence Spruce Grove displayed as a major regional destination for tourism.”

A tireless promoter of community collaboration, Houston was one third of the mayoral trio to hammer out details on an updated plan for regional collaboration. The plan is a commitment from Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County to work in tandem toward regional growth.

Houston also coached minor hockey for 12 years, refereed for 20 and directed Spruce Grove Minor Ball for 17 years. During his time in Spruce Grove, Houston received the Alberta Parks and Recreation Health Active Community Award in the elected official category.

The decision to step away an emotional one for the man who never once cheated the position he was elected into. It was not uncommon to see Houston out on a flagpole changing Canadian flags or taking it upon himself to remove graffiti from fences in an effort to make the city a better place to live.

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“I think did those things because I was a Mayor who took so much pride in how our community looks, the feel of it, and trying to improve the quality of life in Spruce Grove. This city has been transformed over the last number of years through a lot of hard work from a lot of people. I took real pride in trying to do my part. Fence painting was just one example. I wanted our community to look great, I didn’t want it to look like some of the areas in West Edmonton. Maybe I was a little over the top at times, but that was Stuart Houston’s approach.”

It was however, the decision Houston believes is best after two decades of dedication the City. Prior to his municipal career in Spruce Grove, Houston was a flying instructor at the Aero Aviation Academy in Edmonton before becoming a structural ironworker for Canron Inc. From there, he moved on to become the supervisor with Triple 5 Corporation Structural Systems where we worked from 1886-2016.

“I’d like to extend a heartfelt thanks to the community for the support, and to my wife, Debra, because when you’re a mayor there are significant challenges you face. If you don’t have a strong marriage and good support. You will never make it. There were prosperous times, and there were tough times. I’m super proud to say when I hang my hat, Spruce Grove will be a better place than it was when I took over,” Houston said. “You cannot imagine how emotional this is for me when you have maybe the best job in the world and you say, so long, it’s tough, but I think the timing is good. After October 18th I’m going to take some time to reflect. Debra and I have some travel time booked … but knowing my passion and ability to promote, I might consider doing something. As people say, you still need to have a little purpose, you can’t just roll it up.”

joshtomas@postmedia.com twitter.com/joshthomasrepex

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