The City of Lacombe Council recently penned a letter in support of the Town of Ponoka’s plea for more fair treatment of municipalities.
The original request by Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett asked Council, “To support equitable treatment for smaller, rural, and northern communities in accessing federal
and provincial funding programs.” Upon further discussion, Lacombe Council modify this motion to say that all municipalities deserve equitable treatment when accessing funding.
The request from Ponoka came after the Town has faced an up-hill battle receiving funds for a proposed new fieldhouse in Ponoka. The Town chose to leverage the Province of Alberta for the funds by withholding the school tax — which is collected by municipalities on behalf of the Province.
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The Province has since responded to the Town of Ponoka since Bonnett’s visit to Lacombe, saying that all funding considerations will be withheld until Ponoka hands over the school tax.
City of Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey said the wording of the letter of support is intentionally worded to support that rural municipalities and urban municipalities deserve equitable funding treatment, but doesn’t explicitly support Bonnett and the Town of Ponoka’s tactic regarding the school tax
“I don’ think it was Mayor Bonnett’s request to endorse how he went about it but they found themselves in an unfortunate position where they feel they were being ignored,” Creasey said. “I think it is important for municipalities in a given area which have a similar size and goals to act together and support one another wherever we can.
“We are certainly happy to do this evening to support them in their quest for equitable treatment of all communities in Alberta.”
The all communities was added in by Lacombe Council in order not to exclude southern or urban municipalities from equitable treatment. Creasey said that there are only two municipalities — Edmonton and Calgary — that have clear funding models.
“I really don’t think it would be a big leap for our provincial counterparts to come up with some sort of plan where all communities could share in resources in a way that would be more easily planned for,” Creasey said. “I think it would just be the proper way to treat municipalities.”
Creasey did say that urban municipalities and rural municipalities face different challenges, but that shouldn’t be an issue when you are dealing with equitable treatment.
“The funding model we come up with for infrastructure does need to be equitable. It doesn’t matter where you go in Alberta — situations exist and I think it is high-time the provincial government treated them as equals,” he said.
Creasey pointed out that it doesn’t matter who is in power at the provincial level, this issue needs to be resolved.
“For whoever our counterparts are in Edmonton — this issue will not go away and it it critical for communities across the province that it be addressed. As far as I’m concerned, the sooner the better,” he said.