At its regular meeting, Cold Lake Council decided to submit two projects to the Honourable Minister of Municipal Affairs Shaye Anderson’s regional ID 349 grant.
“The Minister has asked the region to arrive at a consensus concerning what regional projects should be funded from a pot of money carved out of the property tax revenue from the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “If the region cannot arrive at a consensus, then the Minister has said he will choose the projects himself. The city has several shovel-ready projects that will have a great and positive benefit on the entire region: The Minister’s only direction was that the projects be regional in scope.”
Council decided to submit the Portage College Cold Lake Campus Expansion, as well as the Regional CATSA-Screened Commercial Air Service Project for consideration under the Minster’s regional ID 349 grant. Regional projects will be discussed by the City of Cold Lake, the M.D. of Bonnyville, the County of Lac La Biche, the Village of Glendon, the Town of Bonnyville, the Elizabeth Métis Settlement, and the Fishing Lake Métis Settlement, to see if a consensus can be achieved.
The Portage College expansion in Cold Lake has already seen government support. In 2017, the Province granted the college $1.1 million to fund the expansion’s design. The project will see expanded post-secondary opportunities for students across the region.
“Cold Lake has proven to be a strong regional draw for Portage College – the Cold Lake Campus is at maximum capacity, and there is demand for more student space and more programming options,” Mayor Copeland said. “The college serves students from across our entire region and plays a strong role in providing access to post-secondary learning to northern and Indigenous students.”
The Regional CATSA-Screened Commercial Air Service Project was partially funded in Council’s 2018 Capital Budget. The project will allow for seamless air travel from CFB Cold Lake across Canada through a major hub.
“CATSA screening will deliver a level of air service our region has never enjoyed – it will be a game changer,” Copeland said. “Once you are on a CATSA-screened flight you will be able to connect through a major hub to other destinations across Canada, or the world. The economic impact this will have on our entire region cannot be understated.”
The Minister’s final arrangement for how the $6 million of property tax revenue from the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range will be distributed did not outline any deadlines for applications or exactly how the decision will be made. The Minister’s letter did state that the projects are expected to be regional in their scope, and that the final decision will rest with Minister Anderson himself.
“Ultimately, we are still waiting for our chance to meet with the Minister so that we can have some input into this process,” Copeland said. “Up to this point, Cold Lake has been shut out of all discussions on the present funding arrangement and this new Minister’s grant. Ultimately, we expect that the $10 million that was taken from Cold Lake will be restored. Even though the Government’s original MOU stated the Air Weapons Range was supposed to transition to Cold Lake entirely, we had offered a funding formula that would see the same amount of a money going to Bonnyville and Glendon as they are getting now. We offered a formula that would have seen regional cooperation without damaging Cold Lake’s sustainability, and we’re not sure why that wasn’t given serious consideration.”