by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Morinville Council has approved up to an investment of $300,000 over three years into a new regional economic development corporation with other municipalities in the capital region. The initiative puts Morinville in a three-year contract to provide up to $50,000 in the first year, $100,000 in the second, and $150,000 in the third. The new corporation will be set up and directly owned by the municipalities that approve the new program.
The purpose of this new development corporation is to realize efficiencies through additional provincial and federal funding that is intended to maximize the impact of each dollar spent in the corporation to be “potentially many times that” in the words of Councillor Barry Turner.
There was some concern from Council about the dollar amount set, but CAO Andrew Isbister assured councillors that the actual figure should be far lower closer to $22,000 in the first year, with steady increases year-over-year. The intent for the higher commitments in the request sent out to municipalities is to allow for the proposed corporation to function if multiple contributing municipalities decided to not move forward with the agreement.
Mayor Lisa Holmes encouraged Council to support the initiative, saying: “This definitely got a bit of a leap of faith into it because there are so many pieces that go into it but… I hope Morinville goes ahead with this because it shows that Morinville is really punching above their weight when it comes to regional representation.”
Councillor Turner echoed Holmes’ comments, saying, “I believe engaging in regional development like this is important… Seeing this, I did cringe a little bit at the numbers, but in order to provide a bit of comfort that we’re willing to participate and be a little flexible as things roll out, I think it’s worthwhile.”
The new organization will be developed this year, with a framework for regional representation to allow each member community to have their voices represented on economic development opportunities.
The vote passed unanimously after some discussion and debate.
Morinville joins 13 other municipalities in the initiative. The City of Leduc was the first to sign on May 11, followed by Strathcona County, Parkland County, and Bon Accord. Beaumont, Devon, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc County, Spruce Grove, St. Albert, Stony Plain, and Sturgeon County Councils have also voted to participate.
Shareholders will hold an organizational meeting June 8, 2017.