PENHOLD — Libraries, roads and water works are among the projects to be supported by new and revised funding programs announced by the federal and provincial governments on Thursday.
Officials from all three levels of government faced icy winds at the site where Phase I of Penhold’s new Multiplex is now under construction to announce a group of programs totalling more than $300 million across the province, including a number of projects in Central Alberta.
Together, the programs are aimed at stimulating economies, providing jobs and helping communities catch up with the phenomenal growth experienced in recent years.
As an added bonus, construction costs, including materials, are down by as much as 40 per cent from when Alberta’s economy was in overdrive, said Transportation Minister Luke Ouellette, MLA for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake.
More help is to be announced in the future as well, said Ouellette.
He joined Penhold Mayor Julia King, Red Deer MP Earl Dreeshen and Yellowhead MP Rob Merrifield, Secretary of State for Transport in making the announcements.
Shared equally between the three levels of government, the programs provide money for 73 different infrastructure projects now underway or just getting started in communities with populations of under 100,000 people.
Local projects include water and wastewater projects in Eckville, Rimbey, Sundre, Sylvan Lake, the County of Stettler and Red Deer County.
Ponoka, Three Hills and the County of Stettler will get help with road projects and other projects include the library or Phase II of the Penhold Multiplex, a regional library project in Innisfail and construction of a Métis museum at Buffalo Lake.
King said she does not yet have specifics on how much money the federal and provincial governments will provide for the Penhold project, which is estimated at about $16 million altogether.
Although Phase I is slated to open next year, the town is just getting started on raising its share of the money, said King.
Penhold has raised about $120,000 toward its goal of $5 million for the two phases of the project, she said.
The town has set up some fundraisers, including a lobsterfest this summer, and is approaching corporate donors as well.
“We have given presentations to corporate entities, but we have not been given any information back yet,” said King.
Ouellette said that although specific amounts were not announced on Thursday, the program will enable Penhold to complete Phase II and will also provide Innisfail with the backing it needs to start building its new library. With the grants now in place, the library can be completed in two years, he said.