By Cole Parkinson
Come 2022, the Municipal District of Taber is hopeful to gain an Alberta Community Partnership grant to formalize the Southern Regional Stormwater Drainage Committee (SRSDC) as its own able-bodied group.
The M.D. is currently the managing municipality/partner for the committee with the goal of placing responsibility and the coordination of the SRSDC activities and projects under the care of a formalized regional partnership/entity.
In total, the 2021/22 ACP budget is $25.4 million and the M.D. is applying under the Intermunicipal Collaboration component which sees the provincial government providing funding to partnerships of two or more municipalities to develop regional plans, service delivery frameworks and regional service delivery efficiencies. The deadline to apply is Jan. 5, 2022.
“What the RFD (Request for Decision) is putting forth for council to consider is an application to Alberta Municipal Affairs under the Alberta Community Partnership Intermunicipal Collaboration grant program to look at some grant funds to put together and formalize the existing regional stormwater drainage committee,” explained CAO Arlos Crofts.
The SRSDC partnership/committee was initially formed as a result of past and recent flood events that have been increasing in severity causing substantial damage and economic loss with the committee looking at a collaborative effort to work together to develop and enhance existing irrigation infrastructure to convey stormwater in emergent and severe flood events. The group initially began in 2012 and included representatives from the MD of Taber, SMRID, TID, Alberta Environment and Parks, Alberta Agriculture, Alberta Municipal Affairs, and has expanded to include membership and participation of municipalities throughout southern Alberta.
“So right now, the members of the committee are just elected officials from different municipalities and irrigation district representatives and members from Alberta Agriculture and Environment? Is that basically who makes up the committee?” asked Reeve Merrill Harris.
“It’s loosely formed and I think it’s evolved from the point in time, I think whenever the steering committee for the stormwater plan project was established, membership just kind of continued on from that. Then there were additions — most notably municipal representation additions. So it started off with representation from Alberta Environment, Alberta Transportation, Municipal Affairs, M.D. of Taber, TID, SMRID, and then from there it evolved to where it is now,” replied Crofts.
Administration’s report explained in order to consider the project complete, “the partnership will procure a third-party firm/resources to conduct a review of as well as provide recommendations for the regional partnership and existing committee.”
This would include key stakeholder consultation (ie. elected officials/committee members, appointed officials, municipality and irrigation district representatives, and other government agency stakeholders), review (with a recommendation) of legal formalization opportunities and regional service delivery models, based on the SRSDC agreed-upon model, business case development, and implementation and establishment (may include development of agreements and bylaws etc…) of the agreed-upon regional model.
The project outputs and concrete expected results would include the aforementioned and financial evaluations of options for funding and cost recovery mechanisms to sustain the regional partnership, recommendations for an optimal regional governance model with the goal of enhancing existing inter-municipal partnerships and the primary expected outcome is the establishment of a viable regional entity that can effectively deliver the projects and program of the SRSDC over the long-term.
Administration also explained what the benefits of the grant would bring.
“Firstly to develop some options for the committee to consider and secondly to actually implement them. The hope is not just to study it, but come up with an actual result,” added CAO Arlos Crofts.
“If successful, those grant funds would be used to pay for the administration of this committee?” asked Coun. John Turcato.
“Ideally, it would set up and formalize the existing partnership as we see it as its own entity and then once that set up, they would figure out, establish and take control of the responsibility and coordination of the stormwater drainage projects,” responded Crofts.
Turcato also asked about the financial stability of the group moving forward if the M.D. was successful in obtaining the grant.
“Let’s say we’re successful in forming this committee, where would the financial resources for operating this committee — if they have any employees, I imagine there will be one employee that would be a managing director. Where would those resources come from? Would they come from the municipalities and irrigation districts or would that also come from grant sources we already have in place?”
Administration’s report explained the project outputs and concrete expected results would include financial evaluations of options for funding and cost recovery mechanisms to sustain the regional partnership, recommendations for an optimal regional governance model with the goal of enhancing existing inter-municipal partnerships, and the primary expected outcome is the establishment of a viable regional entity that can effectively deliver the projects and program of the SRSDC over the long-term.
“For me, I am 100 per cent in favour of this motion,” stated Coun. Tamara Miyanaga. “The M.D. of Taber has been managing this project and its costing — even though the value far outweighs the cost that our ratepayers have incurred — it’s time to formalize this process. And not just for the comfort of the partnership municipalities, but for ourselves as well to make sure the project is executed in the manner we wanted.”
A motion to submit an application for the purpose of developing options and implementation of formalizing the SRSDC partnership and for the M.D. to fulfil the role of the managing partner municipality for the purposes of the grant application was carried unanimously.