Mayors of municipalities across Alberta met in Edmonton on March 8 to discuss issues in common they will present to provincial and federal ministers.
Prior to the meetings, Town of Strathmore Mayor Michael Ell said the town received a briefing from the president of Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) about the provincial money transferred from the federal Building Canada Fund.
Ell said there is a concern that money may not be fully transferred to municipalities because of the contract signed with the former provincial government. AUMA wants municipalities to express their concerns, and to ask the federal government to send the money directly to the municipalities for infrastructure.
Ell asked for Strathmore town council’s support on the issue.
“No projects were budgeted in the Capital 2017 program to receive or utilize money from the federal Building Canada Fund,” said Mel Tiede, Town of Strathmore corporate finance director.
Coun. Bob Sobol said it was difficult to apply for any money as there is no information on whether the money would be available to municipalities, but there are projects that would be appropriate for infrastructure funding.
“There is a big delay in the funds coming to the province, and on several occasions we were assured by the previous provincial government that they were doing everything to get these funds secured to our province,” he noted. “Now to find out that we must stop waiting, as the fund is not coming to us ... it is very disappointing and extremely unfortunate to hear that these funds will not be coming, as we have been waiting so long.”
Coun. Denise Peterson said there had been past discussions around inadequacies identified in the Building Canada Fund, specifically the scrutiny over funds spent and no money for smaller municipalities.
“One thing that impacted us specifically is the Building Canada Fund excluded anything recreational, cultural or anything to do with roads,” she said. “When we had the discussion in 2015, it was a major, major consideration for us. If there is anything to learn in a future rollout in a process such as this, earmarking should not exclude those things so important to smaller municipalities. So if there is a message to carry forward to (Alberta Infrastructure) Minister (Brian) Mason, it would be that.”
James Thackray, Town of Strathmore chief administrative officer, said that storm water and wastewater projects would be a prime target for these monies, and Coun. Peterson suggested upgrades to water treatment on the east side of Strathmore as another project that could benefit from funding.