Grande Prairie City and County Council are discussing a new set of Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework protocols that are being presented for validation this week. Per the provincial government, the Municipal Government Act requires that municipalities sharing a common boundary must create an ICF.
ICFs document what and how services are delivered with municipalities that share a common boundary. This can outline anything from highway construction from the city into the county, to fires that require combined efforts to put out. Officials say negotiations between the city and the county have been underway since May 2019.
The city and the county have agreed to mediated negotiations with the intent on completing an ICF by March 31st. Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given says some disputes will have to be settled before new protocols are agreed upon.
“The government extended the deadline to April 1, 2021, where previously in the legislation it was April 1, 2020, and in any case, we are likely to be in a position where the city and the county need to mediate some issues before ultimately settling the TCF,” says Given.
The City of Grande Prairie’s negotiating team is comprised of Mayor Bill Given, councillors Jackie Clayton and Eunice Friesen, and City Manager Horacio Galanti. The team representing the county is Reeve Leanne Beaupre, Deputy Reeve Peter Harris, Councillor Ross Sutherland, and CAO Joulia Whittleton. This negotiating committee is mediated by Bill Sutherland and Bill Diepevenn.
Given and County Reeve Leanne Beaupre say they are both eager to develop a working agreement between municipalities and establish distinctions for how many municipal services will be handled and funded going forward.
“I think we are both working to try to build a solid ongoing relationship that will address the concerns of taxpayers within both municipalities while recognizing that residents and citizens and businesses consume or use the services of both municipalities without really a lot of regard on who they’re getting their service from,” says Given.
“We’re trying to work towards a positive outcome for both the city and the county, and several items that we’ve worked on prior to entering into mediation we did find some consensus on some of those items. There are some larger items that with some work I believe we’ll be able to come to an agreement with our urban counterpart,” adds Beaupre.
Under the Municipal Government Act, the provincial government has laid out the discussions around recreation, water and wastewater, enforcement, and emergency services. They also provide an opportunity to speak about any other services that may be of mutual benefit that municipalities should be observing costs to provide and finding efficiencies operationally and fiscally.