Blackfalds reviewing proposal to open its own registry office

Town administration expected to report back to council in two weeks

The Town of Blackfalds is revieweing the numbers supporting a proposal to open a municipally run registry office.

Frustrated that residents must travel to other communities for routine tasks such as registering vehicles, Blackfalds officials have been lobbying the province for years to open an Alberta Registries office.

It was suggested that Blackfalds consider running its own outlet, which is allowed under the Municipal Government Act in a section that permits municipalities to create their own for-profit corporation.

Blackfalds has proposed running the office out of its Civic Cultural Centre.

After crunching the numbers, town staff projected the office could run a deficit up to $162,000 by the end of the second year. However, it could become profitable by 2021 and would make enough to recover the investment by 2022.

Not all residents are in favour of subsidizing the business with tax dollars, and concerns arose about parking and why empty commercial space will not be used.

At the public hearing, two private registry operators out of Lacombe and Red Deer spoke against the town’s plans and questioned its business plan’s projections.

Council voted to hold off on making a decision so that administration could review the business case again in light of the information provided by the private operators.

“We’ve just gone back to double-check things,” said town chief administrative officer Myron Thompson, adding he will report back to council in two weeks.

“It will be a political decision whether the town takes this on.”

The town’s proposal to run its own registry is seen as a temporary measure.

“Our plan has never been to operate a registry for the long term,” he said. “It’s been to incubate it for a number of years and turn it over to the private sector.

“We’ve always been clear on that,” he said.

“We want to make sure that when we turn it over to the private sector, there’s not a deficit and it’s a viable business for someone to take on.”

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