Collaboration + Corporation from Neighbours

Representatives from Alberta Municipal Affairs presented to both Cold Lake City Council and the Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville’s Council at each’s most recent Council meeting. Michael Scheidl, Manager Intermunicipal Relations and Sara Ahlstrom, Senior Intermunicipal Relations Specialist designed presentation for each Council on the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF).

The Provincial Government will soon require neighbouring municipalities to have conversations with one another on how they can work together to maximize resources and utilize each other’s services.

Mayor of Cold Lake, Craig Copeland says the presentation was cliffnotes on what’s to come, “it was a 101 on the ICF. Eventually, it’ll be an agreement between the City and the MD. Identifying services that benefit the residents of both municipalities and try to work an agreement on looking at the cost structure.”

“We feel the Government is being very invasive on what’s inside the ICF, they could’ve done a better job,” Mayor Copeland foresees some issues with the ICFs, “it’s the small communities that lives in a very wealthy rural municipality. How are they going to pay their fair share of a new arena? If the County residents only utilize 20 percent of the facility, how is the small town going to pay for their share of the hockey arena? Under the ICF the County may only have to contribute 10 percent of that cost, how is the small community going to come up with the other 90 percent? I don’t think the ICF has been thought out by the Government and I don’t think the ICF will solve the sustainability issues that the small towns are having.”

“City residents will recognize that they utilize Kinosoo (Ridge Snow Resort) and I’m sure Bonnyville residents, as well,” the mayor says the collaboration will go both ways. “We also know the MD and the Town of Bonnyville have also had a great relationship in terms of recreation and the cost of the C2 (Centennial Centre).” Noting that those two areas have been able to work well and share costs on a mutually beneficial facility, Mayor Copeland adds that in the past that hasn’t been the case for the City and the MD, “we have never had the same relationship, in terms of recreation. I think the ICF is going to be interesting.”

“We’re really happy with the change that we’re seeing on the MD Council; it’s refreshing,” Despite some reservations the mayor has on how the ICF has been presented by the Alberta Government, he says he is confident an amicable agreement will be struck between both municipalities. The City is looking forward to working with the MD on an ICF, he says, “we’re looking forward to working with the new Reeve and Council on the ICF.”

When presenting the MD Council, Scheidl explained that the idea is to have municipalities have the conversation of services, “the Governments wants you to look at your services and if it doesn’t make sense to share or split costs, then you don’t do it. But they at least want to know that you’ve had the conversation.”

Examples of services that would transfer across municipalities are healthcare and emergency services, the regional waterline and recreational facilities like the Energy Centre.  “This is what the new Government would like municipalities to do by 2019,” Mayor Copeland anticipate the City and the MD will begin ICF talks in the spring-early summer of 2018.