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WHEREAS the Resource Road Program and the prior Resource Road/New Industry Program were generally created to assist municipalities in the province in improving their resource-intense roadways; AND WHEREAS the selection criteria to determine funding is based on a point system considering such things as truck traffic volumes, resource industry value and added new jobs, etc.; AND WHEREAS the result of the criteria review process is a focus of funding to the most active and resource investment-rich municipalities with new and expanding industry and not necessarily other areas that are resource-busy which do not reach the same levels of resource investment as the extremely active areas; AND WHEREAS municipalities with well-established resource industry have limited opportunity to access funding because they have difficulty meeting the criteria by demonstrating new and expanding industry, especially meeting the 400 vehicles per day criteria for paving-related projects; AND WHEREAS these municipalities with well-established resource development usually score less in the criteria review process and do not make the cutoff for funding, which results in the Resource Road Program not addressing the needs of all municipalities affected by resource-based activity on roads;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the provincial government to maintain the existing Resource Road Program and create a new, separately funded $17 million per year Resource Road Funding Program with allocation similar to the Rural Transportation Grant that is aimed at providing special assistance to all municipalities in the province of Alberta affected by natural resource generated traffic.
The Resource Road Program and the Resource Road New Industry Program were generally created to assist municipalities in the province in improving their resource intense roadways. There is a limited amount of funds available each year and therefore only some of the municipalities acquire grants. The selection criteria used to select the projects for funding assistance is based on a point system. Traffic volumes (existing), truck traffic volumes, resource industry value and added new jobs are used to ascertain which projects deserved more points than the others. Unfortunately, this criteria has created an inequity in funding throughout the province. There has been repeat funding for certain municipalities over the years. In some cases more than one project has been funded per municipality. This does not spread the funding around and limits the funding to the most active locations in the province. Areas that are resource-busy do not reach the same levels of resource investment and activity as the more active ones. The result is that they score less in the criteria review process and do not make the cutoff for funding. In most cases the municipalities that had their resources developed some years ago experience the problems accessing funding. Of course, these resources are still very active and the pressures of the resulting resource traffic remain an issue for the local municipal road infrastructure. These municipalities with well-established resource industry wish to get their fair share of the Resource Road Program. Little benefit is received from the current Resource Road Program by these municipalities in relation to the resource dollars contributed to the provincial economy from these areas. Qualifying for paving projects is especially difficult for these less active municipalities, because they have difficulty demonstrating the required 400 vehicles per day traffic volumes. Yet the pressures of the resource traffic on their road infrastructure necessitates paving for certain projects. The paving criteria need to be lowered and additional funds need to be made available and spread out more equitably throughout the provinces resource-affected municipalities. We suggest that the Province maintain the existing Resource Road Program and create a new separately funded Resource Road Funding Program with allocation similar to the Rural Transportation Grant that is aimed at providing special assistance to all municipalities in the province of Alberta affected by natural resource generated traffic.
The AAMDC has one resolution currently in effect with respect to this issue. Resolution 34-03F, endorsed at the fall 2003 convention, urges the provincial government to establish a separate grant program to assist with upgrading roads in municipalities with extreme terrain and climatic conditions such as the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, areas with local or destination traffic rather than through traffic and areas with agricultural industry, where municipalities may not find it economically feasible to contribute to a project as required under the Resource Road Program.
New funding has been made available in 2005-2006, including the five-year $3 billion Alberta Municipal Infrastructure Program (AMIP), the four-year $88 million Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF), and the five-year $477 million federal New Deal for Cities and Communities (NDCC). The AAMDC advocacy strategy led to an increase for 2007/08 of $34 million in resource road funding tripling the original allocation of $17 million to a total to $51 million.