The Village of Empress

is nestled between the Red Deer River and the South Saskatchewan River, at the eastern edge of Alberta. There is a wild feel to this quaint village surrounded by expansive farms and ranches, pronghorns, coyotes and so many different species of birds. The recreation opportunities for adventurers and star-gazers are boundless. Come and see for yourself!

Meet Your Council


Arlen Johnston


I was born and raised in Didsbury, Alberta.  After high school graduation, I moved away and went to college in Red Deer, Alberta and Caronport, Saskatchewan.

My wife Kristy and I have been married for 22 years and we have five children.  Our family moved to Empress 11 years ago when I took a job in the agriculture sector.  Since then, I have served on council for a term (2013-2017) and served on many boards and committees in Empress and with our municipal partners.  After that term I did not seek re-election, choosing to let others lead.  When Empress entered a by-election situation in 2022, I chose to to run as a candidate and was elected.  This is my second term on council.

Empress has been a home for our family for over a decade and I would like for the village to not only remain a viable municipality, but grow in stability, community determination and as a destination!  I believe we can achieve these things with a dedication to honour our past, build for the future and continue to dialogue with each other with a community building spirit.


Dawna Martin

Deputy Mayor

I was born in Nova Scotia and moved out west with my family when I was 5 to Calgary, then moved out to a farm just outside of Empress.  After a year or so my family moved into town.  I went to school in Empress from grade 4 to grade 9 then graduated in Oyen.  I worked as a summer student for the town and for the hotel for my formative years.  When I turned 20, I left for the big city lights and worked at a couple jobs waitressing and in the food industry at Old Dutch.  I have a lot of administrative skills under my belt, working as Human Resources, Bookkeeping, and I also ran my own business.  I moved back to Empress in 2004 to help my family run the grocery store.  I am a DIY’er (Do It Yourself).  My hobbies are: Sewing, Scrapbooking, Kayaking, working in my yard.  Carman and I put on a pretty good display of Christmas lights.  I volunteer for a few societies and drive the High School bus in my spare time.  I’m looking forward to the challenges of being on council, because I love Empress and would like to try and keep its sustainability.  Empress is an awesome town with great neighbors, a rich history, the two rivers, and the beautiful landscape.  We need to keep it a strong and viable community.


Kelly Burgess


My Name is Kelly (Gill) Burgess and our family has lived in Empress for several generations.  I was raised on a farm just North West of Empress, and attended Kitchener School, here in Empress until Grade 10, when we were bussed out to South Central High School in Oyen.

I have been married to my husband Mick since 1994.  We have one daughter, Michaela; and one son, Kevin- who is married with children, which makes us proud grandparents.

After High School, I lived in Medicine Hat and Calgary for about 10 years so that I could continue my education.  Days after graduating as a Registered Nurse, Mick and I moved home to Empress, and I took a position at the Empress Hospital, where it was my pleasure to work until it’s closure.  After the Empress Hospital closed, I continued working as an RN in Oyen and Medicine Hat.  Currently I work in Chronic Disease Management as an RN for the Palliser PCN at the Oyen Medical Clinic.

Our family loves the outdoors, and so Empress is a terrific home for us.  We spend countless hours enjoying the Red Deer River, kayaking and camping.

Mick and I have served in many volunteer positions over the years.  And it is my honor to serve now as a member on the Village of Empress Council.  I promise to always work towards keeping Empress viable, and dream of Empress being a place where travelers come to find rest and relaxation, and businesses find opportunities and prosperity.


Council Meetings

Regularly scheduled Council meetings for the Village of Empress are held the third Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm at the Empress Village Office Building located at 6 – 3 Avenue West.

Agendas are posted on the office bulletin board and on our webpage a fews days prior to the Council meeting.

During the meeting, if someone would like to speak to a topic, they may pose the question to Council, and it will be up to Council to determine if they will allow it.  Spectators are there to listen to the process and discussion to understand how and why Council makes their decisions.

Presentations to Council

If you want to make a presentation during a Council Meeting, you must tell us ahead of time what you want to speak to Council about.

You must provide, in legible writing, or typed, or e-mail, what it is you wish to speak to Council about, and present it to the office the Wednesday the week before the meeting at the latest.  A time will be allocated for you to make your presentation to Council.



The Council for the Village of Empress is composed of three Empress residents, chosen by election every four years.  The roles of Mayor and Deputy Mayor are chosen by the Council amongst themselves once per year.

A by-election for all three Councillors took place on Monday, August 8, 2022.  See the 2022 Municipal By-election page for information.

The last regular election was on October 18, 2021.  To learn more about that election, see our 2021 Election webpage.

The next scheduled regular election will be in October, 2025.

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