The County of Grande Prairie administration building & Council Chambers. (MyGrandePrairieNow.com staff)
Officials with the County of Grande Prairie say they’re disappointed after the City of Grande Prairie pushed Intermunicipal Collaboration Frame into arbitration. The County received notice of the City’s intent on November 4th to settle ongoing discussions via a third party.
Before arbitration, the city and the county had been in the process of negotiating eight ICFs, six of which have been settled in the last 18 months.
County Reeve Leanne Beaupre says mediation between the municipalities started when negotiations with the city reached an impasse.
“We had discussions that had been facilitated by a consultant before that and when we were not able to move forward on some of the discussion points, we asked for some help by the Municipal Affairs Mediation Branch.”
“We willingly, both parties, entered into mediation. We’ve been working on mediation for the past 18 months to establish a successful Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework,” she says.
Beaupre adds the Province of Alberta was specific in its instructions around certain services that needed to be included in ICF discussions. Those services were recreation, fire, enforcement services, water and wastewater, and solid waste.
“We have already established who’s delivering those services. The discussion has been on what the percentages of the usage [of those services] and how much contribution… to or from one municipality [should be],” she explains.
Grande Prairie Interim Mayor Jackie Clayton says the city is looking forward to putting their case forward to a neutral arbitrator, which they hope to expedite the agreement process, but the effort is not without its own concerns.
“If we wait until the [April 1st] deadline, the concern is the arbitrator will decide the entirety of the ICF, removing regional control,” says Clayton.
“It’s unfortunate the County has chosen to delay arbitration on these issues until the ICF deadline of April 1st. We were optimistic and hoping to have an arbitrated decision prior to the deadline.”
The County of Grande Prairie has officially stated has trust in the arbitration process set out in the Municipal Government Act to ensure an objective and fact-based resolution to the dispute.
An ICF is an agreement between municipalities that share borders, such as the City and the County of Grande Prairie, to delegate the delivery and funding of municipal services.