WHEREAS in 1994 the Province of Alberta discontinued funding the Dust Control Program for municipalities and subsequently, any dust control measures have been the sole expense of either the municipality or its residents; AND WHEREAS the province of Alberta has for the past two years experienced severe drought conditions, which has further contributed to dust problems; AND WHEREAS the oil and gas industry continues to grow and flourish, generating an increase in traffic on our gravel road networks; AND WHEREAS the provincial government reaps windfall revenues from the oil and gas industry;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the provincial government to reinstate the dust control program to assist municipalities to deal with dust control and suppression activities on local roads.
For several years prior to 1994, the provincial government recognized the traffic pressure placed on local roads by the oil and gas industry. As well, it was recognized that the provincial government was reaping huge revenues from this industry. Therefore, to assist municipalities in addressing the major dust problems the industry created on gravel roads for rural residents, the province provided some limited funding.In 1994, the province rescinded this program as part of its effort to “get its fiscal house in order” and, typically, municipalities simply accepted its elimination as doing our part. In the many years since, the province has eliminated or substantially reduced all funding assistance to municipalities while recording unprecedented revenues from the oil and gas industry. As well, the provincial government continues to grab approximately 50% of the local property tax revenue for education while refusing to acknowledge its financial and moral obligation to pay its fair share of the assessment costs that create this revenue.While our sincerest wish would be that the provincial government simply leave the local property tax base to the municipalities use, we recognize that this is not likely to happen. After all, it is politically expedient to let municipalities collect the taxes (and take the associated abuse for the excessive rate) and then send quarterly payments whether we have collected the tax or not!Recognizing this reality, municipalities have no option but to continue to go to the provincial government, hat in hand, and beg for funding assistance with municipal services. This resolution addresses the largest municipal issue Ponoka County has and that is dust. We do not have the financial resources to adequately address the problem and therefore request that the province reinstate a dust abatement funding program.
Resolution 4-00S, endorsed by delegates at the spring 2000 convention, urges Alberta Transportation to establish a private residential dust abatement program on gravel secondary highways in Alberta, to be made available to interested individuals on a cost sharing basis. In its response, the province said it would expend funds on dust abatement where warranted, based on recommendations by a maintenance sub-committee consisting of representatives from rural and urban municipalities and Alberta Infrastructure. Municipalities that wish to supplement the level of service provided by the province on provincial highways are welcome to do so at their own expense.