Citing financial challenges, the Village of Hythe is looking into whether it would be best to become a hamlet of the County of Grande Prairie. It is asking Alberta Municipal Affairs for a viability review, which is a way for the province to help it address issues surrounding the municipality’s future.
The village says it is struggling with financial challenges that mean it can’t cover its rising operational costs and infrastructure needs. Among those challenges are that it does not collect on more than $500,000 in taxes from 40 per cent of its tax base, as it is government buildings, churches, and schools.
“The provincial government originally paid these taxes,” it’s explained in a press release, “however, this then shifted to a provincial grant in lieu of paying for the taxes. This grant has continually decreased to zero over the years.”
Other factors noted are a 35 per cent decrease in Municipal Sustainability Initiative grants, which support local infrastructure priorities and are expected to continue dropping. The village also estimates that deteriorating infrastructure is expected to cost $10 million over the next five years and that costs for operations like insurance, fuel, power, wages, equipment, and services are rising faster than revenue.
“A viability review is a way to ensure we’re moving forward in the best way possible for our residents and businesses,” says Hythe Mayor Brian Peterson. “Considering the financial situation before us, we feel it is important that we take action and move ahead with the review to support our community well into the future.”
The review can take several months, and include a thorough assessment of the village’s books, infrastructure, services, and relationship with neighbouring communities. Hythe citizens will be asked to give their input, and eventually vote on whether the village should dissolve and become a hamlet of the County of Grande Prairie.
“We recognize the vote by Hythe residents on the recommendation of the Province’s review team is binding,” says County Reeve Leanne Beaupre. “With any relationship moving forward with Hythe, we want to create a positive environment for the citizens of the County of Grande Prairie as well as Hythe.”
A virtual tele-town hall on the review has been scheduled for April 28th. One-on-one meetings can also be scheduled for the following two days with the mayor or council members. Hythe residents should contact the Village Office by phone or email at [email protected]
The Town of Grande Cache recently underwent its own viability review, and its residents eventually voted to dissolve and become a hamlet of the Municipal District of Greenview in 2018. Rycroft went through the same process earlier that year, but its residents chose to remain a village.