WHEREAS Alberta agricultural societies operate various facilities including rural community arenas/hockey rinks, curling rinks, ball diamonds, community halls, agricultural facilities, etc.; and
WHEREAS Alberta agricultural societies plan and deliver various community special events and activities; and
WHEREAS Alberta agricultural societies utilize provincial grant funding to finance facility operations, enhancements and community events; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has notified a local agricultural society that the Agricultural Initiatives Program grant has been discontinued;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta to re-instate or replace the Agriculture Initiatives Program funding for local agricultural societies.
Little is known or has been communicated about the Agricultural Initiatives Program that has recently been discontinued. A local agricultural society has received written notice that the funding was cancelled, and further, no replacement grant program announced.
The ability for agricultural societies to provide much-needed community infrastructure has been hampered by the decision of the Government of Alberta, with no communication or engagement with the agricultural societies, or the rural municipalities that have these societies within their boundaries.
Letter from Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is attached.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
The Government of Alberta (GoA) has had to make some difficult decisions, such as the discontinuation of the Agricultural Initiatives Program (AIP), as we work to address the current fiscal challenges facing the province and continue on our Path to Balance. Throughout this process, we have worked hard to focus on finding savings in a fair and responsible manner, looking for efficiencies, while focusing on core programs that meet the needs of Alberta.
While the AIP is no longer available, we are still providing significant core funding for primary agricultural societies and the seven regional exhibitions. In March 2018, we committed to providing stable funding for agricultural societies for the next three years, with Alberta’s 283 primary and seven regional agricultural societies receiving $11.5 million annually. This funding helps support the many important services provided to communities by our agricultural societies, including many types of projects that were funded by AIP.
In addition, there are GoA grant funding programs that provide support to community projects, including:
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance
Budget 2018 includes $11.6 million to agriculture service boards and $11.5 million to agriculture societies and exhibitions, which are both consistent with the amount provided in Budget 2017.
The GoA has announced its commitment to three years of funding for agriculture societies and exhibitions at the 2017 levels ($11.5 million). Agricultural Societies are also eligible to apply for grant funding through Alberta Culture and Tourism’s Community Initiative Program and Community Facility Enhancement Program.
RMA recognizes the fiscal challenges faced by the Government of Alberta and is encouraged by the three-year funding commitment to agriculture societies in Alberta and the eligibility of agriculture societies under the Community Facility Enhancement Program and Community Initiatives Program. However, these grants were previously available, require agriculture societies to compete for funding with other non-profit organizations, and do not adequately substitute for the loss of the Agriculture Initiatives Program (AIP), which was specifically available for capital funding for agriculture societies. Therefore, the resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.