Albertan Government Provides Funding To Coal Communities

The provincial government has announced $5 million in funding for communities affected by the coal phaseout.

Minister of Economic Development and Trade Deron Bilous was in the Village of Wabamun yesterday for a big announcement for coal communities.

Accompanied by Stony Plain Mayor William Choy, Spruce Grove Mayor Stuart Houston, MLA Erin Babcock and Village of Wabamun Mayor Charlene Smylie, Bilous announced the Albertan government will be supporting 12 projects in 17 communities across the province through the Coal Community Transition Fund. Bilous explained further what this means saying, "approximately $5 million in funding will be used to support these community driven projects aimed at diversifying the local economy and creating new jobs".

One News sat down with Minister Bilous and discussed how the projects were chosen as he explained, "It was the respective Mayors and their Councils who came to us to say this is what we're wanting to do and then my department provided a little bit of guidance and support". Speaking further to this Bilous said, "it's not the Government of Alberta saying you need to do XYZ to diversify your economy, that would be the wrong way to do it".

For the Town of Stony Plain, they received $250,000 in funding which they plan to use in their downtown redevelopment. Mayor William Choy explains further, "We worked with the minister and his department to make sure our capital project plan with the downtown library was eligible for this grant and it was so that is where the money will be going towards". Mayor Choy adds how the money will help contribute to the economic growth of the town "For that we will use it to redevelop our downtown which spurs on economic activity in the Town of Stony Plain and as well we are looking to work with the library to build an entrepreneurial space so that we can train and re-educate people that are affected by the transition".

In Spruce Grove, they received $255,000 which they will be putting towards further studies on the SEC proposal and the development of the West Wind Centre. Mayor Stuart Houston explains saying, "We are looking at doing some further studies on a proposed entertainment district that we are looking at to stimulate our economy. Houston adds he believes this project could be huge for the economy saying, "We're anticipating that it could create 3,300 construction years of employment and 1,200 permanent jobs in our city so we are very appreciative of the province for giving us some money to conduct our further study".

Minister Bilous also spoke to Parkland County not applying for funding in the Coal Community Transition Fund. He explains his message to Parkland County saying, "There is some dollars left in the Coal Community Transition Fund, and my message is they still can, there is some dollars left, so there was a $5 million envelope, so we're encouraging them to apply and to not leave this money on the table".

Speaking to furthering support, Bilous says the government is continually working to find ways to help communities diversify their economy. He notes, "We'll continue to work with each municipalities as they move forward on these plans to diversify their economy, and if there is other sources of money we can direct them to or work with my colleagues then we will look at how and where support can come from".

Bilous also notes the funds announced today are a starting point, and they will continually look to work with the federal government and municipalties to ensure the effect of the coal phaseout is minimal.

A total of $4,869,575 has been granted to coal communities with the full spread of the dollars shown below:

Applicant Amount

Battle River Region

$1,750,000

Leduc County

$250,000

Paul First Nation

$250,000

Special Areas No. 2

$290,000

Spruce Grove

$255,000

Stony Plain

$250,000

Town of Grande Cache

$325,000

Town of Hanna

$455,775

Town of Thorsby

$245,000

Village of Wabamun

$347,000

Village of Warburg

$375,000

Village of Youngstown

$76,800

-MU

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