Mayor, Town of High Prairie
Following is a portion of Town of High Prairie Mayor Linda Cox’s report for March 8-21. More to be published next week.
AUMA Mayors Caucus
March 7-8, I attended the Spring Mayor’s Caucus and Provincial Leaders’ Breakfast in Edmonton. Various provincial government ministers attended the breakfast and stayed afterwards to give us updates on the provincial economy and their department’s activities.
Hon. Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, and Hon. Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, gave information on energy in the future and the Climate Change Strategy in our province. Our strengths for economic development lie in health innovation, clean energy and the agri-food sectors.
Hon. Dave Hancock spoke on the impact of American political changes. He forecast troubled times ahead as the U.S. moves towards protectionism, but also said that Alberta has good people in Washington, D.C. and is cultivating positive relationships in the states that Alberta companies export to.
Alberta exports over $1 billion in products to the U.S.
Hon. Brian Mason, Minister of Municipal Affairs, told the municipal representatives how much the provincial government is doing for municipalities: 26 cents of every dollar [26 per cent] in the capital budget is going to municipalities for infrastructure improvements or new builds. This might seem like a lot but AUMA has calculated that municipalities own or are responsible for over 60 per cent of the infrastructure in Alberta so is that really fair funding?
We also had presentations on Broadband, which is on every municipalities’ list. The CRTC has now mandated Broadband Internet as a basic service and federal programs and dollars are, and will be, available to ensure this service becomes available to remote and rural locations. Collaboration with surrounding municipalities will be key to accessing money from these programs.
The carbon levy presentation included information on the cost of the carbon levy to municipalities. The provincial government calculates [roughly] the cost will be 0.13 per cent of a municipality’s budget in 2016 and 0.19 per cent in 2017. We will see what our treasurer says about the carbon levy cost as our year progresses.
Lesser Slave Watershed Council
March 9, I, with Peter Keay from our public works staff, attended LSWC’s meeting of the Municipal Working Group tasked with review of the Integrated Watershed Management Plan.
The municipal representatives brought forward comments and questions on the working draft as to how implementation of the plan will affect them. The concern most municipalities have is that, although the plan is recommended best practices, at some future date, the provincial government may make these recommendations into laws. It was made clear that discretion is needed in the development criteria to ensure development can take place as each situation may have different needs.
Our administration will be reviewing the working draft and be bringing to council’s attention any recommendations that will adversely impact the town.