by Colin Smith
Morinville is getting $8.9 million from the Alberta government for the construction of the multi-use recreation centre.
The funds are part of the $9,131,300 in Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant funding that Morinville is receiving in 2015.
The remaining $431,300 will go toward purchasing new vehicles for the Town Public Works Department.
Alberta municipalities, including cities, towns, rural municipalities and summer villages, apply for MSI funding for specific capital projects on a year-by-year basis.
“We applied for the funding in 2014 for two projects: Public Works vehicles and for our new multi-use recreation centre,” stated Mayor Lisa Holmes. “These dollars are received each year and we have the ability to choose where we allocate them.”
Approval of the projects was announced in a letter from Municipal Affairs Minister Diana McQueen received by the Town on February 17. Mayor Lisa Holmes made the information public in a Feb. 25 post on her Twitter account.
“I chose to highlight this grant program through social media in order to thank Municipal Affairs for the funding and, in this time of budget uncertainty, to show how important the program is to our community,” Holmes said.
This year’s grant is many times greater than those Morinville has received in the years since the program began in 2007. In fact, the grant for the recreation centre alone is greater than the $8,735,927 total of all MSI funding for the town from 2007 to 2014.
The funds allocated for the Public Works vehicles will be spent on a loader, $205,000; loader-mounted snowblower, $113,800; three pickup trucks, $99,000; bobcat program, $3,700; and bobcat breaker attachment, $9,800.
Funds for operations, in addition to capital projects, have also been provided through the MSI. Morinville received $120,000 in 2013 and $72,000 in 2014. However nothing is expected in 2015 because it is being phased out and replaced by the Regional Collaboration Grants.
Since 2007 the provincial government has directed more than $6 billion in MSI funding to municipalities, for projects such as roadways and bridges, water and wastewater systems, public transit facilities, and recreation and sport facilities.
In 2014, the province approved MSI grants of $1.24 billion: $871 million including $30 million in operating funds.
MSI funding targets set out in the Municipal Affairs 2014-17 business plan were for $1.25 billion in grants in 2015 and $1.26 billion for 2016.
The government committed to providing $11.3 billion in funding to municipalities over the life of the MSI, in addition to a $1 billion increase in the 2014 budget, as a result of an administrative change to the program.