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WHEREAS the Oldman River Regional Services Commission has provided 65 years of planning services to 42 southern Alberta member municipalities and nine non-member municipalities; and
WHEREAS the Oldman River Regional Service Commission facilitates regional cooperation and coordination of long range planning and decision making, provides a venue for regional strategic planning, solves issues through inter-municipal collaboration and creates an economy of scale for planning service delivery; and
WHEREAS the Modernized Municipal Government Act indicates that an increased level of collaboration and cooperation is valued; and
WHEREAS the Capital Region Board and Calgary Regional Partnership receive $3,000,000 each in yearly funding;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta provide long term, provincial funding to all municipalities for regional planning activities in a similar fashion to the Calgary Regional Partnership and the Capital Region Board.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Municipal Affairs:
Growth Management Boards (GMBs) are designed to enhance regional collaboration and co-ordinated decision-making within the Calgary and Edmonton regions. Each board will be responsible for developing a 20-year Growth Plan (GP) that promotes an integrated and strategic approach to planning for future growth in these regions. This is in addition to the proposed requirement to develop a five-year servicing plan that will identify the services necessary to support the goals of the GP, and ways to optimize shared services to enhance the use of taxpayer dollars.
As outlined in Budget 2017, the GOA will provide funding to the GMBs through the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) grant program, to ensure the GMBs have the resources they need to fulfill their mandate. To be clear, municipalities that are members of GMBs maintain the responsibility for administering direct land use planning services within their communities. MA does not provide additional funding to these participating municipalities to deliver this core municipal service.
The GOA recognizes that the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC), and other regional municipal planning service agencies, provide quality land use planning, mapping, and subdivision services to their select member municipalities throughout the province. The province is pleased to have been able to approve a $500,000 project grant in March 2017 to a partnership of five regional municipal planning service providers, which includes the ORRSC, to create tools to support municipalities in developing municipal development plans.
Ongoing operating costs of municipal services are ineligible under the ACP, whether they are delivered by individual municipal departments, or through shared service agencies or commissions.
The province recognizes that some municipalities throughout the regions maintain their own land use planning departments, while their neighbours may choose to join shared service agencies as a practical option.
The ORRSC is a successful example of a shared service approach to municipal land use planning. Through robust membership, they have been able to realize cost efficiencies and expertise in service delivery to meet their member communities’ ongoing land use planning needs. Operational delivery of municipal services, however, still remains ineligible under the ACP and other grant programs offered through MA.
Alberta Treasury Board and Finance:
TBF has no comments beyond those provided by MA.
This resolution requests “long term, provincial funding to all municipalities for regional planning activities in a similar fashion to the Calgary Regional Partnership and the Capital Region Board”, but as outlined in the response provided from Alberta Municipal Affairs, funding offered through the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) grant is not provided to meet the operational delivery of municipal services. ACP funding is instead provided to the Growth Management Boards (GMBs) to meet their legislated mandate. Though funding was provided to the Oldman River Regional Services Commission along with other regional planning service providers in 2017, this funding is not long term. ACP funding is available “to partnerships of two or more municipalities to develop or expand regional municipal service delivery,” but such funding is not intended to be long-term in nature, but rather to define governance roles and responsibilities related to the partnership.
The Government of Alberta is planning to review aspects of the Municipal Government Act related to regional service commissions in early 2020 which may address funding issues.
Given the differences between the GMBs and other planning bodies in the province, it is difficult to draw direct comparisons but given the lack of additional long-term funding provided to regional planning organizations such as the ORRSC, this resolution is identified as Intent Not Met.