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City tightening belt as provincial funding decrease looms

With changes to the Government of Alberta’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative now concrete, Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton says the city must be proactive as possible to use what she calls a predictable level of funding before changes are made to the process.

The city will receive funding under the current MSI model until 2023-2024, of which they receive approximately $13.5 million a year to go towards capital projects.

“Moving forward it will be about $11 million a year; that’s $2.5 million less annually that we will have to spend in our community,” she says. “Any decrease in funding from the provincial government is substantial.”

After 2023-2024, the funding model will fall under the new Local Government Fiscal Framework, which ties the cash available to economic growth across Alberta. Clayton says they estimate that switch over will see a further decrease in funding, as they are likely to receive $10.8 million annually when the change in funding models is complete.

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She adds, knowing changes were coming, the municipality did its best to try to mitigate those losses by taking advantage of the influx of funding available through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. She says the city was offered an additional $14 million in 2021 as part of that economic recovery package, and it will hopefully prepare them for what is to come down the line.

“The priority of getting people back to work and creating employment for this year will be a strong impact in our community,” she says. “To get the projects funded through the support of the provincial and federal government is significant, and also the increase in 2021 will allow us to plan forward.”

Projects greenlit by the city with that federal and provincial funding include the recreation centre in the Smith subdivision, as well as $4 million to be used toward road rehabilitation projects.

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