Saturday , 18 September 2021

Cold Lake passes 2021 Budget with $41M set aside for capital projects

City council has finished the interim 2021 budget with a major focus on building and construction for the next year.

Last Tuesday, city council passed the $45 million in operating and $41 million for capital projects, which includes a transfer of an additional $9.5 million to the capital budget.

The budget includes a 0.14 per cent tax increase next year, but the rate is not set until after city council sees the property value assessments in the spring.

This is a far cry from Cold Lake’s 2020 budget, which saw just $9 million allocated on the capital side, in a “hold-the-line” financial forecast with uncertainties around ID349.

“It’s probably in my opinion, the most wide-reaching capital budget I’ve ever been involved in,” said Copeland on The Morning After.

“Mow, more than ever, we must balance immediate needs with future visions. Our council is proud to have arrived at an exciting budget. This budget lays the foundation for future growth and economic development. It also maintains valuable services important to residents and makes significant headway on our infrastructure deficit,” he said in a press release.

The operating budget includes their forecast for ID349, which was announced Monday as $15.4 million for Cold Lake, and an ICF collaboration with the M.D. of Bonnyville which has not yet been finalized.

The city will fund a “Cold Lake Family Connections” at the FCSS to replace the former Parent Link program.

Recycling rates will drop almost $3 a month, from $9.25 to $6.50 per month for residential properties and from $5 to $4 per month for multi-family properties.

The North Arena will stand up with new upgrades and modernization scheduled for next year. A plan for a new ice plant, floor slabs and puck board replacement, and renovations are tabulated at $3 million on the capital side.

The Cold Lake Energy Centre will have ice this upcoming summer under a pilot project the city hoped to start last year. It’s set to cost $145,000.

A grant funding stream to help non-profits establish supports for the vulnerable and homeless in Cold Lake was established for $40,000.

On the capital budget, facility infrastructure work has $18,426,000 allocated, with just over $9 million pencilled in for roadway improvements plus $2.2 million that’s already been approved.

There is $8.6 million set aside for environmental and utility infrastructure improvements, $2.5 million for recreation infrastructure, and just under $2 million for fleet and equipment.

“We’re trying to create a Cold Lake economic stimulus package. And so we were going all-in with all the buckets of money we can find, and really trying to do a diversified capital budget,” said Copeland.

“You’re gonna have water and sewer projects, roadways, recreation, and the idea is to try to keep our existing local businesses that contractors employed and offer them work.”

Some of the top projects include:

  • Lakeshore Drive enhancements and linear parkway
  • Funding for an additional phase of the Kinosoo Beach Master Plan
  • Design development of a community pool and aquatics centre
  • Phase 1 of a new Public Works Operations Centre
  • New RCMP Detachment Building (top-up funding)
  • Animal Intake Centre (top-up funding)
  • A kayak storage facility, and design and approvals for a new or enhanced boat launch at the Cold Lake Marina
  • Funding for Phase 2 of the Mountain Bike Park – Skills Park
  • Expansion to the Skateboard Park
  • A public washroom for the downtown business area
  • Design development of a look-out tower at the Cold Lake Museum site
  • Wayfinding Signage (top-up funding)
  • Additional floating docks for Kinosoo Beach and the Cold Lake Marina.

“Lakeshore Drive, which is the drive right along the Marina going up to the Freedom Ridge condos, that roadway and the underground water and sewer are in desperate need of repair.

“We’re going to go all-in and repair that whole roadway from the church all the way to the condos up at the top of the hill.  That’ll be about a three or four-year project and that’s gonna be exciting.”

The total cost is projected at $15 million over the next three construction seasons, with $6 million set aside for 2021.

Subject to tender results and and final budget allocations, 5 Avenue (between 16 Street and 18 Street), 19 Street (between Ptarmigan Crescent and 7 Avenue), 16 Avenue (between 8 Street and Forest Drive), 50 Avenue (between 38 Street and 41 Street), 50a Avenue (between 40 Street and 41 Street), 58 Street (between 47 Avenue and 48 Avenue), and 51 Avenue (between 49 Street and 50 Street) are listed as road priorities.

Also, $150,000 is going towards the development of designing a pool at the Energy Centre.

Because of the scope of the capital budget, city documents say in 2021, city council will need to pass a multi-year capital budget in accordance to provisions in the new Municipal Government Act, and confirm continued funding for such infrastructure projects as the Lakeshore Drive Enhancement and Linear Parkway, the Cold Lake Regional Utility Services Commission’s Waste Water Treatment Plant contributions, and the Public Works Operations Centre.

“The 2021 Capital Budget will, therefore, necessarily have impacts on the capital budgets for 2022 and beyond.”

The previous two years, the city used surpluses to balance the operating budget and not raise taxes.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.