By Justin Seward
The Village of Foremost, County of Forty Mile and Town of Bow Island submitted a grant application for $150,000 to the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) in effort to obtain the grant application for the Intermunicipal Collaboration (IC) and the Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) where a consultant would come in a help plan out the partnership structure.
The ACP’s goal is to provide long-term sustainability of municipalities by providing support for regional collaboration and capacity building.
If an IC was awarded to the region, it would help with funding towards expanding regional municipal service.
An IDP is a long-term planning tool for organizing inter-municipal planning between the municipalities and refers to a fringe area.
“When the County of Forty Mile looks at their collaboration that we do with Bow Island and Foremost, there’s a number of collaborations we’re already doing,” said County of Forty Mile Reeve Steve Wikkerink.
“As we go through the discussions with those two municipalities, and maybe even with our neighbouring counties … and putting these things on paper that maybe some of them can be complete.”
He said the collaboration was “onerous on our staff,” but applying for grant funding will help offset staffing costs for the process and will take some money to put it all together.
“Hopefully with some positive things coming in the county, maybe down the road a guy can enhance some of it a little bit more,” said Wikkerink.
“Until we get to where the windmill stuff really is going to be set in stone and creating some taxation, (we) probably can’t change our involvement in the communities too much.
“We have to be involved in the communities because a lot of our rural ratepayers use our local community centres, skating rinks and swimming pools.”
Council also discussed how they can give more to both municipalities.
But with tight budgeting and the need to keep a balance in their own offices, it has kept the county’s hands a bit more tied than they would like.
The next two years will be status quo in what can be done for the two communities in what grants and funding that the county gives them, Wikkerink said.
“There might be one or two specific things that we need to address moving forward that maybe has come up between the mayors and myself but really hasn’t been worked on at the council level,” he said.
The emphasis from a county perspective will be to have the town and village be on the same page when it comes to attracting new businesses, retaining current ones rather than focusing on the exact location of industries setting up shop in the area.
Village of Foremost Mayor Ken Kultgen has been on council for 24 years and has attended joint liaison meetings with the other two municipalities, working with many reeves and mayors.
He said this plan will have more of a structure with regards to developments and priorities in the area.
“It favours everybody,” said Kultgen. “You have to have your area open for business.
“When somebody comes to your area with a proposal, they would like to know right away how it will be dealt with, who they deal with (and) what are the structures. This is what makes your community open for business and attractive to other people.”
He added that the area be one of many municipal partners applying for the grant.
“There’s going to be a lot of people applying for it,” said Kultgen. “I’m not sure how it’s going to go. The years I’ve been involved in municipal politics, I sit and have coffee and lunch with different municipalities across the province, and there’s definitely some good synergy in the County of Forty Mile. We’ve always got along from a Foremost standpoint anyway.”
Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds said the collaboration is important because there are currently many municipalities that do not collaborate, work together or get along.
“We have questioned the need for a formalized plan because we do collaborate,” said Reynolds.
“Moving ahead, personalities change on councils, issues change. If there is a formal framework put in place then we have something to work with.
“It could and should reduce conflict and controversy and should make the collaboration that much easier.”
The applicants will know if their submission was successful in the near future after the deadline closed last week.