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MLA Hunter discusses Horsefly shortfall with M.D. council

Posted on February 9, 2023 by Taber Times

By Cole Parkinson
Taber Times
cparkinson@tabertimes.com

With the Horsefly Emergency Spillway project seeing a shortfall of around $5 million for Phase 1, Municipal District of Taber councillors are continuing to seek solutions over the total three phases. While money has been shifted from Phases 2 and 3 to help offset the original shortfall, it still leaves the project without crucial funding moving forward.

During council’s regular council meeting on Jan. 24, Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter was in council chambers to discuss a handful of different topics, including the Horsefly Spillway. Hunter explained what he’s been hearing at a provincial level regarding that shortfall.

“I know there is a shortfall of $5 million for Phase 1. I don’t have an answer for you today about whether or not that shortfall is going to be made up by the province. I will say that I’m no longer on Treasury Board. First of all, I can’t share with you, even if I am on Treasury Board, what happens in Treasury Board until it’s announced. In this situation, I do know talking with a few people on Treasury Board, they are aware of the inflationary measures,” he explained. “I know there is just a little over $20 million through the ACRP (Alberta Community Resiliency Program) program that was granted in 2019-2020 and that came directly to the M.D. of Taber or did that go to that committee that was struck in order to be able to analyze?”

M.D. administration further explained how the project has received finances. With contributions coming from member municipalities, the provincial government, and the federal government, and with the M.D. being the managing partner, there are tons of moving parts.

“Those funds through the ACRP came directly to the M.D. of Taber and the grant agreement, I believe, is on a grant agreement with the province and the M.D. of Taber. The committee doesn’t have a legal ability to design agreements,” explained Bryan Badura, director of Corporate Services. 

“The M.D. is the managing partner, so it is all done through this office here,” added Reeve Merrill Harris. 

Hunter continued to gain information about where the project was at.

“The federal government also provided a little less than $20 million as well, but those were for not just Phase 1 but Phase 2 and 3 — and that money is also with the M.D. of Taber,” Hunter said.

“We don’t have the money, we have to submit bills and they’ll reimburse the M.D. We don’t have the money,” replied Harris.

Concerning the movement of money from Phases 2 and 3 to Phase 1, Hunter continued to discuss the process.

“From the briefing notes that I got, the M.D. had agreed with (Alberta) Environment and protected areas, which is the new ministry’s name, that they were going to use some of Phase 2 and 3 money to be able to make up that shortfall for now. They recognized there was an extra $5 million needed, but that ACRP can actually be used at your discretion. So, that is why you guys are starting the project,” he said. 

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