Lacombe County has provincial red tape-cutting ideas

Rural Municipalities of Alberta asked its members for ideas

Lacombe County has some ideas on how to cut down on government red tape.

Reducing the need for intermunicipal agreements between neighbouring counties, speeding up a provincial grant approval process and streamlining environmental regulations around wetlands are among the county’s ideas.

The county was responding to a call from Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) for proposals on cutting red tape, which is one of the new provincial government’s aims.

One of the county’s suggestions is to cut down on the number of Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) plans rural municipalities must create. The plans were introduced by the NDP government as a way to promote regional approaches to issues.

Each municipality was required to create an ICF with neighbouring communities.

For rural municipalities, that included urban municipalities within its borders. For Lacombe County, that meant creating 15 separate ICFs.

Lacombe County manager Tim Timmons said the municipality has no problem creating ICFs for its urban municipalities but questions the value of doing the same thing with five other neighbouring counties.

“For the most part we don’t have any shared services,” he said of the county-to-county plans, adding they already consult with neighbours if a development affects them.

“We just thought it was redundant.”

The county proposed half a dozen ways that the environmental issues around wetlands could be streamlined.

A system is in place to ensure that a new wetland is created or financial compensation offered if a project, such as road widening, encroaches into a wetland.

Currently, only Ducks Unlimited is approved by the province to develop new wetlands but Lacombe County sees no reason why its experienced staff can’t do that work.

“One of the biggest things is we are not deemed to be an approved or accredited wetlands restoration agent.

“We think that we could do a really good job establishing wetlands that are required as a result of impact to our wetlands in and around our construction projects.

“We have some gravel pits that could easily be converted into wetlands and we could get credit for them.”

As the system stands, Ducks Unlimited is given money raised in wetlands compensation but it is not required to build a new wetland in the community where the money came from.

Lacombe County also believes the government could reduce the 10- to 12-week wait to have projects approved connected with Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants.

RMA president Al Kemmere said they have not gone through the red tape-cutting ideas from member municipalities yet but ways to improve wetland regulations has been coming up.

The RMA has previously voiced concerns about the number of ICFs that some municipalities would require, and the amount of staff time and resources it will take to create them.

While the association has not specifically said what the government should do municipalities would like to see a second look taken to determine if all the intermunicipal agreements are necessary.

Kemmere said the association was going to take its first look at some of the red tape-slashing responses at its board meeting on Thursday.

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