Ponoka County council has passed its Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) agreements with both of its urban municipal neighbours.
The two ICF deals between the towns of Rimbey and Ponoka were unanimously approved at their meeting on Feb. 25. Coun. Bryce Liddle and Doug Weir were absent.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin said it is great to have the agreement finalized and ratified.
“The biggest conversation I’ve heard from other rural municipalities is around getting the ICFs done. So, congratulations to committee and administration,” he said.
“The strongest thing negotiated is the capital portion. You have cleared ground that most counties were not able to get.
“A lot of smaller municipalities aren’t even interested as they do not see the world that way. It is a big deal because the chances are — with future projections seeing there won’t be grants available from the province anymore — those special moneys will probably be gone.”
Both ICFs are similar, although one difference is that the county and Rimbey have already approved their accompanying Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP).
Each agreement includes a deal on recreation funding with the county contributing annual per capita increases starting this year — rising $20 to $75 — then going up $10 each of the next two years to $95 by 2022. After that, the amount will go up by the rate of inflation.
County director of operations Peter Hall added, “Ten percent of those recreation funds each year will go into a capital maintenance reserve with each town matching that amount.”
Those funds will only be used for items like replacing a roof or a zamboni, any new recreation projects will require negotiation on any cost-sharing. That will be initially handled by the committee made up of representatives from both councils, who will have 30 days to set up meetings to discuss and review the idea.
If no agreement is done in 60 days after that first meeting, then it will go to mediation. Should that not work within 90 days, the issue will then go to arbitration.
The ICF is scheduled for review every five years by the intermunicipal committee.
The county and Ponoka will work on completing the IDP this spring through the same committee of councillors and administration that worked on getting a deal on the ICF.
Coun. Mark Matejka explained that each side will work on dressing up the details of the current IDP with a goal of getting the committee together in May to hash out an agreement.
However, CAO Charlie Cutforth is hoping the approval process can be streamlined through a review by planners rather than going to a public hearing.
“If we go through two information sessions, then a public hearing followed by revisions and so on it could take up to six months,” he said.