On March 23, 2021, Sturgeon County Council endorsed new Recreation Cost Sharing Agreements, to be signed with the Towns of Bon Accord, Gibbons, Legal, Morinville, and Redwater. The agreements with the towns will bring Sturgeon’s commitment in line with other Alberta counties’ per capita spend on recreation, increasing funding from $709,244 to $2.3 million annually. The agreements are part of new provincial requirements for neighbouring municipalities to use scarce resources to fund regional services such as fire and recreation that mutually benefit their residents.
“Access to recreation is important to our residents and an important part of attracting and retaining business,” said Mayor Alanna Hnatiw. “Sturgeon County is committed to paying its fair share for recreation programs and we have worked hard to find equitable solutions and a clear path forward. We value the unique relationship between the County and the Towns within our boundaries. It is a priority of this Council to be a good neighbour and a community builder — we are all better when we work and plan together.”
The new recreation agreements include many new provisions such as ensuring equal fees and registration timelines between Town and County residents and will give Sturgeon County more of a say in future recreation decisions. Also included in the new agreements is a requirement for the Towns and the County to start tracking and reporting usage by their residents at recreation facilities.
“With this new agreement, Sturgeon County and the Towns will have more information regarding what services and facilities our residents are actually using,” said Mayor Hnatiw. “The usage data will support future decisions on what programs, services, and facilities our residents are using and we will base future contributions on that information. This is not only important for our residents, but we know recreation can play an important role in business retention and attraction, so we want to ensure we are making smart investments for future economic development as well.”
In addition to the inter-municipal recreation agreements, County Council also approved a $300,000 operational grant to CFB Edmonton, which provides County residents with preferred rates for a wide range of recreational programs, services, and other amenities at the Base. This grant is a continuation of a previous decision of Council to redirect funds from regional transit towards recreation at CFB Edmonton after the Regional Transit Service Agreement with the City of Edmonton was terminated.
Despite the increase in recreation funding, County residents will not see an increase in property taxes or a reduction in other infrastructure investments.
“As part of Budget 2021, Sturgeon County is making significant investments in new roads, broadband connectivity, and core services. These services include recreation, which is vital to the health, safety, and quality of life for our residents,” said Mayor Hnatiw. “These investments are being funded primarily through the first full year’s assessment of the Sturgeon Refinery, North West Redwater (NWR) Partnership, meaning there will be no increase to property taxes.”
More information on Budget 2021 can be found at sturgeoncounty.ca/budget2021.