Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett is trying to enlist support from other municipalities for more equitable provincial funding for small and rural municipalities. Photo from Town of Ponoka

Ponoka mayor enlisting allies in funding battle

Mayor Rick Bonnett said small and rural municipalities not getting equitable funding

Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett is a man on a mission.

Dismayed by what he feels is a double standard in the way Alberta’s large and small communities are funded, Bonnett has hit the road to drum up support from other municipal councils to convince the province to make changes.

Ponoka town council raised its concerns in dramatic style last November when it voted to withhold the education taxes — about $2 million last year — it collects on behalf of the province until more funding is provided for a proposed $15-million field house.

The province has not backed down. In a Jan. 10 letter, Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson said all provincial grants to Ponoka are on hold until it rescinds its motion to hold back school taxes.

Bonnett said the province says to unlock about $6 million from the federal government’s Investing in Canada Infrastructure Fund the town must use $4.5 million in provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding as its matching portion.

But Bonnett said MSI cash is needed for town infrastructure and other funding should be available to cover the province’s share.

Alberta’s two biggest cities get other funding from the province for transit and other initiatives on top of MSI, he said.

“We feel that small communities are being passed over in the whole granting process. We just want a fair shake.”

Adding to the community’s frustration is its long history of rejected funding.

“This is the fourth time we’ve been passed over in our field house proposal since 2006,” he said. “It’s been a 13-year battle.”

Bonnett has already been to Rimbey, Stettler and Lacombe councils to gather support. He already has plans to make his pitch to Barrhead, Westlock and Gibbons.

On Monday, Lacombe council passed a resolution supporting that all communities should get equitable treatment in accessing federal and provincial grants.

Lacombe chief administrative officer Matthew Goudy said council’s motion reflects that it considers Ponoka a valued regional partner but is not specific support for the town’s approach in its dispute with the province.

Not all communities are affected equally by the provincial government’s stance on using MSI funding to get access to federal grants. Municipalities most affected are those that rely heavily on the money for basic infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, said Goudy.

In Lacombe, MSI is not a major part of its infrastructure budget.

Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) has been working with the government to develop a new municipal funding framework to replace MSI, said president Barry Morishita in an email.

“AUMA is seeking a framework that offers adequate levels of funding, increased predictability for multi-year financial planning, and long-term growth of the funding in alignment with Alberta’s economy.”



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Red Deerians brave the chill to spend Family Day in the new Celebration Plaza

The 2019 Canada Winter Games hub attracted a lot of parents and kids

Stettler RCMP search for suspects

Attempted theft of an ATM

Sign cost a concern for some in Red Deer

Installation complete on south end welcome signs

Historic win for Team Nunavut at Canada Winter Games

Four years in the making boiled down to a collection of firsts… Continue reading

Canadian women beat US 2-0 to win inaugural Rivalry Series

DETROIT — The inaugural Rivalry Series was created to give Canada and… Continue reading

Don Cherry blasts Hurricanes as ‘jerks’; team responds with his words on T-shirt

TORONTO — Don Cherry’s latest rant about the Carolina Hurricanes and their… Continue reading

Country star Miranda Lambert reveals secret marriage

NASHVILLE — Country star Miranda Lambert celebrated Valentine’s Day weekend with the… Continue reading

‘Black Panther’ costume designer blazes trail to inspire

LOS ANGELES — Ruth E. Carter is a black woman blazing a… Continue reading

Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has ‘shifted’

Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the assault reported by Jussie… Continue reading

Still-active human rights case speaks to lasting homophobia in Canada: activists

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Just over 14 years ago, the government of… Continue reading

Alberta missionaries among the Canadians heading home from riot-stricken Haiti

MONTREAL — A Canadian couple who had to leave Haiti due to… Continue reading

Man charged in daughter’s death in hospital with self-inflicted gunshot wound: police

Police say a man charged with first-degree murder in the death of… Continue reading

Most Read