WHEREAS for over ten years the Alberta Government has embraced a partnership with Alberta municipalities to plan and undertake regional economic development initiatives of mutual interest. The success of this partnership has made Alberta a leader in the delivery of regional economic development and has resulted in numerous achievements.
WHEREAS after a lengthy delay of nine months and unresponsive communications with the department, Alberta Finance and Enterprise (AFE) announced:
and delivered the news at a REDA Chairs meeting called by the Honourable Minister Snelgrove on Friday, February 4, 2011. The message delivered was:
WHEREAS the issue for the REDAs is the dramatic unilateral change dictated by the department to the existing relationship (MOU) with no consultation with the REDA Chairs and the municipalities they represent. The changes were so significant, the province is putting many of the REDAs at risk. And the process to introduce the changes was abrupt and insensitive to what was thought to be a healthy and progressive relationship between the department and the REDAs.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties encourages Alberta Finance and Enterprise (AFE) to enter into meaningful dialogue with Alberta municipalities through the AAMDC, AUMA and REDA Chairs, to put in place immediately a process to discuss a more achievable transition plan towards a mutually agreeable REDA Next Generation strategy;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that until the REDA’s New Generation Strategy is adopted, the $1.5 million be reinstated.
Rural Alberta communities rely on REDAs to help plan and undertake economic development activities. The REDAs provide a forum and mechanism for municipalities to identify common issues and solutions to problems or opportunities beyond the limited resources of individual municipalities. Examples of big problems that benefit from the collective actions of municipalities include: the response to Transport Canada’s Rail Freight Service Review; medical training in the rural communities; regional infrastructure needs including the future access to water; the retention of companies in rural communities through productivity initiatives; and the importance of supporting innovation and competitiveness as a way to retain and grow our rural communities. These are jut a few that our alliance (PREDA) is involved in: if we ask the other 12 REDAs for their examples and success stories, the accomplishments would be equally as impressive and of significance to Alberta municipalities.
The most recent actions of Alberta Finance and Enterprise present a a reoccurring impression (perception and reality) of ‘downloading’ by the province onto the municipalities and it was done in such a way that negatively impacts future relationships.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions related to this issue.
Finance and Enterprise:
The Regional Economic Development Alliances (REDAs) are only one of the relationships the provincial government has with the AAMDC to promote and encourage economic development.
The REDAs were originally created with the vision that these bodies would be fully self governing and self sustaining, while existing outside direct government control. This should continue to be the goal of these organizations. It is incumbent on REDAs to work with other organizations and look outside of government for operating support.
We are in the process of undertaking a comprehensive progress report from each of the REDAs and looking for ways to improve how these organizations operate.
No additional funding, outside the $225,000 in matching monies over the next three years as outlined within the Memorandum of Agreement (MOU), and identified transitional funds, is available for REDAs. However, Finance and Enterprise continues to work with REDAs on identifying alternative sources of funding on a project-by-project basis. We recognize that economic realities change over time and we will work with the REDAs to ensure that there is flexibility as this transition takes place.
The AAMDC acknowledges the work that the government continues to undertake to support REDA’s in Alberta, but the effort to date does not match the intent of the resolution. There is no indication of reinstating the funding until a better solution is developed. While there was indication during a meeting with the Minister of Finance that a Next Generation funding strategy could be viewed positively, there has been no action to begin those talks in a meaningful way with the REDA chairs and municipal associations.