From left: Sturgeon County Mayor Tom Flynn, Legal Mayor Ken Baril, Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes, Hon. Rona Ambrose – MP Edmonton-Spruce Grove and Minister Responsible for Northern Alberta, Gibbons Deputy Mayor Louise Bauder, Bon Accord Mayor Randy Boyd, and Redwater Mayor Mel Smith.
– Lucie Roy Photo
by Lucie Roy
Sturgeon County mayors and local businesses met with the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Spruce Grove and Minister Responsible for Northern Alberta, Jan. 20 in pre-budget discussions. The purpose of the sessions was to get input from municipal and business leaders on job creation, growth and long-term prosperity. The meetings took place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.
“Our government understands that consulting directly with Canadians is an integral part of the budget process,” said Ambrose in a release. “Many of the ideas brought forward in local pre-budget meetings have bene included in the Federal budget.
Ambrose said the government is on track to balance the budget and want input from the people they represent on how the federal government can “continue to work on creating lasting prosperity.”
Joining Ambrose at the roundtable discussion was Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes, Legal Mayor Ken Baris,Gibbons Deputy Mayor Louise Bauder, Bon Accord Mayor Randy Boyd and Redwater Mayor Mel Smith.
Attached to Ambrose’s meeting was some discussion on the Gas Tax Fund, monies given to municipalities from taxes charged at the pump.
Although the government announced what they called “predictable, long-term, stable funding for Canadian municipalities” last October, Ambrose did take some time to explain the program and what it means to communities like Morinville.
Ambrose said the fund was originally a one-time $5 billion pool, which the federal government has now made into a permanent fund municipalities receive twice a year. “We’ve doubled it, we’ve made it permanent, and we’ve indexed it,” said Ambrose. “That means quite a bit more money for municipalities that will go directly to them to fund their own priorities for infrastructure.”
Ambrose said by legislating the fund permanently, municipalities know they will have the money in perpetuity. “They can plan, leverage it, and borrow against it,” the minister said. “It’s their money. It’s in their coffers. They’ll have it in perpetuity.”
In the case of Morinville, the per capita funding will amount to $465,686 in revenue in 2015.
Mayor Lisa Holmes said most of her conversation with the minister during the closed-door roundtable discussion centered on the proposed rec facility.
“I appreciated Minister Ambrose taking the time to discuss funding with myself and the other Mayors as it allowed us to shine a light on our individual priority projects,” said Mayor Holmes. “We talked not only about the Federal Gas Tax renewal, but also about accessing other sources of funding like the Build Canada Fund.
“Having the Federal Gas Tax program renewed last Fall allows municipalities to use it as a predictable source of income for the next 10 years. They have also given more power to Councils to choose how to spend those dollars so that we are able to apply it towards priority projects like the new Multi-use Recreation Facility if we choose to.”
In addition to consulting with the region’s mayors on their priorities, there is an online pre-budget survey open to all Canadians. The federal government is looking for answers to five questions. The survey is online at www.fin.gc.ca/prebudget-prebugetaire/1-eng.asp.