MLA Scott Cyr met with Cold Lake City Council to discuss some of the issues and hot topics the City has been faced with recently. One of the items Cyr discussed at length with the City was the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) and the ID-349 funds. “There seems to be this effort [from surrounding communities] to come in and make a possession on the CLAWR deal,” explains Mayor Copeland, “we talked at length with Mr. Cyr about the ID-349.”
“ID-349 is unique in that it’s an island,” Mayor Copeland explains, “it’s an island municipality where the industrial taxation is coming to the City of Cold Lake. One of the issues in the five-year agreement is the MD and Town of Bonnyville, and now Glendon, have somehow decided that this agreement is coming to an end. That was never the intention, this five-year deal has a transition, the Provincial government needed to figure out how the ID-349 connects to the City of Cold Lake, when no land was taken away from the MD of Bonnyville to the ID-349 join the City of Cold Lake. One of the options being put out there was do you take a sliver of land along the Saskatchewan/Alberta border and have CLAWR join the City of Cold Lake.”
“Basically, east of 897 (Primrose Lake Road) would come to the City of Cold Lake to join CLAWR with the City,” Mayor Copeland explains one of the options that was presented in the original agreement. “In the end, we did not do that, at that time. But, it is still an option.” The Mayor explains another option for the City, “the new Municipal Government Act (MGA) says the borders of your municipality do not have to be continuous.” Explaining Cold Lake has options on how to absorb CLAWR.
All of a sudden, we’ve got a lot of noise that the deal’s coming to an end. Which is not the case -Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
“Mr. Cyr has a great opportunity as MLA to showcase how industrial assessment (taxes), from CNRL, Husky, Cenovus, and the pipeline companies, is coming into an urban municipality and how it has helped the City deal with its infrastructure deficit. We’re seeing infrastructure getting fixed in the City of Cold Lake; the fire hall, FCSS/Parent Link, the Energy Centre, transit. You’re seeing all these partners coming together and the City changing in less than four year. You’re seeing how the industrial taxes are helping an urban community.”
Mayor Copeland is hoping MLA Cyr left the meeting with a deeper understanding of the use of the ID-349 funds, how vital the funding is to the future of the City and how the agreement can serve as an example of what’s possible for other municipalities. “Our Council tried to encourage Mr. Cyr to promote that fact that he has a template to showcase the rest of the province on how industrial assessment can help an urban.” Mayor Copeland says there are other success stories in Alberta; including Lac La Biche, where the County and the Hamlet are one municipality. Anotehr example is Sherwood Park and Strathcona County, which have amalgamated as well.
Mr. Cyr can lead municipalities coming together -Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
Mayor Copeland believes the NDP government’s mandate within the Municipal Affairs Business Plan is for linear assessment and municipalities coming together,”Cold Lake is a model municipality of the NDP philosophy.”
Mayor Craig Copeland says the City would like to see all the funds from ID-349 come to the City and have the City staff be responsible for collecting the taxes; property and school. “What we want to do as a Council is treat everybody the same. So if our tax increase is 3 percent we want residential, commercial, and the ID-349 increase to be the same.” Currently, the province handles setting the rate and collecting taxes on ID-349; the province takes a cut and then distributes the rest to the City. “We do not want to see raising the mill rate on the ID-349 and using it as an ATM, the industrial mill rates are excessive in our area and we’ve told the province we want to manage the mill rate, just like we do in the City,” states Copeland.
We want to treat everybody fairly – Craig Copeland Mayor of Cold Lake
The Mayor says this is what’s wanted from the industry, “the oil patch they want to see it too. Everything is so tight for them, whether you’re an oil company or a service company, the margins are so tight and we’ve got to be careful to be raising taxes any further.”