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County backs motion to speed up regional disaster payback

The County of Grande Prairie has backed a motion that will see the Rural Municipalities of Alberta push the province to refund municipalities for resources deployed during regional disasters faster.

On top of reimbursement speed, the motion asks for assurances from the government that the funding from the Disaster Recovery Program will arrive within a defined timeline.

Sexsmith Mayor Kate Potter says it’s critical that funding gets sent out quickly, and they often do it for the largest of the disasters.

“Just this year we got our funding from the 2018 flood, and so you’re carrying that cost for a significant amount of time,” she says.

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“We are anticipating, for our floods this year, we will carry it probably for the next couple of years.”

Potter says much like the municipality, private residents can also apply for funding, however, with the lengthy wait to receive funding back, residents end up carrying those costs. She says it’s unfortunate for all involved, as in general residents don’t have the same leverage or buying power that a corporation would.

Potter says despite having more resources on hand, municipalities are also finding themselves dipping into financial reserves, which can cause another set of challenges.

“At the end of the day it ends up limiting what you can do, you can’t go ahead with a project,” she says.

Potter says the Town of Sexsmith received approximately $140,000 in funding from the 2018 floods. According to the RMA, many local municipalities that helped out during the 2019 Chuckegg Creek Wildfire are still waiting for reimbursements.

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