This decision on ID349 by this NDP government is 11 months overdue as the original contract signed lapsed on December 31, 2016. This current NDP government has demonstrated clear negligence by having allowed this contract to lapse, which only serves to enflame an already volatile matter.
The previous government was largely responsible for the lapsed funding arrangement that was in place. Unfortunately, that past agreement pitted the joint-interests of our communities against one another, instead of bringing us together.
I respect and welcome the views of every municipality involved in this issue, and wanted to play a behind-the-scenes role as a consensus builder so we could have presented a united front to the provincial government as to what is best for Cold Lake, Bonnyville, and our entire region.
If everyone worked together in a spirit of cooperation and understanding I am sure that we would have found solutions that would make everyone better off. However, during the last 2.5 years in office Alberta has had 3 Minister of Municipal Affairs in that short time, which made it very difficult for myself and all the municipalities involved. The incredible instability in that ministry should have never happened, and it has caused great angst in our constituency.
I, myself, have requested to all 3 ministers to be involved in the negotiations in the ID349 to ensure that all voices were heard at the table. Only to be ignored. While I may be in the Official Opposition it is still my role to represent our constituents. To make matters worse I heard that the ministry made a decision and didn’t even have the common courtesy to inform me, as the local MLA, before it was released to the public. This NDP government is known for its lack of consultation, and this is further evidence.
While this new NDP ID349 agreement does reallocate funds to other municipalities, this decision also aligns with Bill 21: The Modernized Municipal Government Act legislation the NDP brought in during 2016, which requires all Municipal Districts, Counties and joint municipalities to create Intermunicipal Collaboration Funding (ICF) Agreements. The fact that the NDP are redistributing wealth is not a surprise to anyone who has witnessed the introduction of the massive increases to personal and business taxes, higher education property taxes, and the carbon tax.
However, with the formation of the ICF agreement between municipalities like the M.D. of Bonnyville and the City of Cold Lake, we will start to see M.D. shouldering their share to pay for the services they use in the City of Cold Lake. This means that urban municipalities will have more funds available once these agreements have been signed. While the ID349 will have fewer funds distributed to the City of Cold Lake, we will see some of the funds from the M.D. of Bonnyville due to the ICF. Until we see the new ICF agreements we won’t know the full impact to our municipalities. However, I do have faith that our councils will work hard to ensure that both municipalities are treated fairly in the near future.
For those who are disappointed as I am with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, I would encourage you to email [email protected].