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WHEREAS the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development recognized that the Alberta Advantage was not resulting in economic growth in most of rural Alberta, which led to an MLA Steering Committee being established to consult with rural Albertans to identify the challenges and make recommendations to expand rural communities and economic development; AND WHEREAS the result of this consultation was a report released in March 2004, called Rural Alberta: Land of Opportunity; AND WHEREAS the recommendations contained in the report are very significant for rural Alberta, in particular, the importance of the Province of Alberta to take action now; AND WHEREAS many rural communities are passing the point of economic recovery and sustainability which will impact the entire province if no immediate action is taken; AND WHEREAS it does not appear that any initiatives have been implemented to address the recommendations contained in the report, which was to be incorporated into the new Alberta Strategy for Rural Development; AND WHEREAS the Province of Alberta has the financial resources, now that we are debt free, to reinvest in rural Alberta so that in the future we are able to remain sustainable due to our own growth;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Province of Alberta to invest in rural Alberta by immediately implementing the recommendations in Rural Alberta: Land of Opportunity; AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the provincial government, in consultation with the AAMDC and stakeholders establish a Rural Development Authority to coordinate and expedite activities vital to rural renewal.
While rural areas provide the raw materials and natural resources that make possible the Alberta Advantage, in return they see meager amounts of the funds generated by these resources re-invested into rural areas. Many rural communities have existing, but underutilized, infrastructure in place while they often witness urban areas struggling with the inability to keep pace with demands for the new infrastructure necessary to support sudden growth. Additionally, rural governments are facing increased costs and pressures to replace older infrastructure to meet the demands of development. Rural Alberta continues to see the infrastructure dollars funneled to projects in the major urban areas (i.e. Edmonton and Calgary) as winning the competition for funding dollars. The province has developed an economy, environment, tax structure, lifestyle and other amenities to ensure that Alberta will be the leader in Canada and a major player in the world. The wealth of the province should ensure solid development and growth in the future that is equally distributed across the province. The growth, people, industry, transportation and other social changes and expectations have, and will continue to, place tremendous pressures on municipalities – rural and urban. Together municipalities need to have a stronger, more effective, proactive voice in programs, services and direction that they will be forced to deal with. Our inability to vision 10, 15 or 30 years into the future limits our ability to proceed with planned development. Planned development and regional strategies today will save problems and dollars in the future. Therefore, in partnership with one another as well as the province, we need to invest in dialogue regarding this provincial initiative and growth strategies. The views and aspirations of both rural and urban municipalities are valuable to the growth of the province and must be a part of the discussions on the future economic growth strategy of this province.
The AAMDC does not have any resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.
The Rural Alberta: Land of Opportunity Report formed the framework for the current Rural Development Strategy initiative.The Government of Alberta has announced a $100 million grant for Rural Development. The grant is being distributed through 2008 and can be applied for though the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing. The Association continues to advocate for the full implementation of the strategy.