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ID 349 arrangement will change, millions of dollars in limbo for Lakeland region communities and settlements

The Improvement District No. 349, highlighted above, arrangement will be reviewed with a “regional solution.”

The ID 349 arrangement that sends millions of dollars of tax revenue from the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range to Cold Lake, Bonnyville, M.D. of Bonnyville, Glendon, Fishing Lake Metis Settlement and Elizabeth Metis Settlement could change very soon.

After meetings with the Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu, these municipalities will come with new ideas and a new ID 349 arrangement.

“I’m just gonna work with the local leaders to come up with a local solution,” said MLA David Hanson who’ll head up a meeting with representatives from each municipality and settlement.

“The number one priority for me is to make sure that money stays in our area. I’m pretty sure that if we work together we can find a solution that’s a benefit to the entire region.”

Currently, the City of Cold Lake received $16 million, the Town of Bonnyville received $4 million, the M.D. of Bonnyville gets $1.2 million along with Fishing Lake and Elizabeth Metis Settlement, and Glendon receives $500,000 after the I.D. 349 agreement changed in 2017.

Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland said his council is working on pitching ideas to bring forward.

“Everything’s on the table. There are no guarantees for anybody. It’s a clean slate,” said Copeland.

“He [Madu] wants a regional solution and wants the M.D., the town and the city to see if we can agree on the best move forward. But if not, then the minister says he’s prepared to come up with a decision.”

Copeland said he was pleased with the solutions the city will offer to the Minister.

Bonnyville Mayor Gene Sobolewski said depending on the timelines, an uncertain I.D. 349 could affect future spending in the 2020 budget.

“The 2019 funds aren’t going to be released until the six communities pound out an agreement…basically just working on the agreement and I think it will be headed up by the MLA,” said Sobolewski.

“The bottom line as we’ll see with our budget when we start talking next week, and throughout the month of October and November, we’re going to see that it’s going to be a radically different budget. We’re going to be very close to mediating a lot of the risk just because we don’t have it, we’re not going to be budgeting the money.

“I’m hoping we won’t have too many rate increases and things like that. I think we’re going to have a bit of reduction in capital projects, but we’ll see what happens.”

MLA David Hanson said he’s working details with other ministries to best leverage the money.

“I think it’s in our best interest to protect it and make sure that it stays in the region for sure.”