Ponoka County applies for grant on regional collaboration framework

New collaborative agreements with municipal neighbours on the table

Ponoka County CAO Charlie Cutforth

The first step toward meeting provincial requirements with regional collaboration was taken last week.

Ponoka County, at its meeting on Dec. 12, approved a motion that will see it become the managing party for the development of mandatory agreements between it and the towns of Rimbey and Ponoka plus the Summer Village of Parkland Beach.

Earlier this year, the provincial government passed changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) that handed municipalities a two-year deadline to approve agreements — the Inter-municipal Collaborative Framework (ICF) and Inter-municipal Development Plan (IDP) — with all of their municipal neighbours.

Ponoka County already has an ICF and IDP with the counties of Camrose and Wetaskiwin, while a meeting held Monday has started the process with the other municipalities. That includes the potential of receiving a provincial grant to help pay for a consultant to guide the municipalities through the process.

CAO Charlie Cutforth explained a first meeting Dec. 18 with the CAOs of towns of Ponoka and Rimbey went well.

“It was about brainstorming to find the best way to decide how we need to move forward,” he said, noting this first discussion was more about finding a process and not talking details.

“As for our view, there are so many differences that we think it will be less confusing to negotiate with each municipality individually when we get to that point.”

Cutforth added everyone agreed on a starting point where CAOs would go back to their respective administrations and councils with a goal of identifying what needs to be included in the agreements, then allow the administrators to compile all of the background information before more discussions take place.

“Once it’s determined what areas or services should be included and we come up with recommendations for a first draft, that’s when it will come back to the councils for their feedback,” he stated.

“My hope is that this won’t take an extensive amount of time. This is a huge commitment from all of the municipalities and it is meant to be positive. The past is the past and this is about moving forward for the good of all of the communities involved.”

While what the county would like to see included hasn’t been specified yet, two areas Cutforth would like see considered are the county’s contributions to various community groups, organizations and projects as well as how capital and operational funds for future recreation facilities will be split.

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