Parkland County doesn't believe the recent funding from the Alberta government is an effective use of taxpayer dollars.
Parkland County Mayor Rod Shaigec has provided some clarity as to why the County didn't apply for the latest funding from the provincial government for communities affected by the coal phaseout.
Last week, the Government of Alberta revealed 12 projects are receiving a total of $5 million in funding as part of the transition fund to help coal communities. Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Wabamun all made the list but Parkland County, who is home to nine of the eighteen coal-fired power generating stations in Alberta was not.
Mayor Shaigec shed some light on this saying when the fund was originally announced back in September it was for communities affected to gain access to money to conduct studies and develop reports outlining economic opportunities. Shaigec explains further saying, "Parkland County over the last three years has executed around 30 different studies so all of our work has been done to lay the foundation for us to be successful as we move forward, and in all honesty this would be a imprudent use of taxpayers money".
Shaigec adds that Parkland County would like to see the provincial government invest in infrastructure which will help attract more business and in doing this, help recover revenue which will be lost in the coal phaseout. Mayor Shaigec says the construction of the overpass over the CN rail line that goes through the Acheson Industrial Park is the top priority going forwards. He adds, "that is a critical component that we need to enable us to continue to attract business and allow those businesses that are already located in Acheson to grow and become more efficient".
Mayor Shaigec also believes the funding they would receive if they applied to the CCTF would not be a prudent use of taxpayer money when compared to the millions in tax revenue they will be losing in the coal phaseout.
He also adds, the federal government does need to play a role in supporting communities in the coal phaseout, but the provincial government need to take a leadership role. Further explaining he says, "we're getting extremely frustrated that we haven't been able to have any meaningful discussions with the province, to sit down and look at opportunities for co-investment despite the fact that this government has repeatedly said that they want to work with rural municipalities to build meaningful relationships".
In closing, Mayor Shaigec also says the government has ignored the recommendations of the Coal Advisory Panel who have identified a focus on infrastructure is key in going forward, something he says is very disappointing.
Parkland County also adds they recognize the challenges facing the provincial government, but feel consideration must be given to the regulatory framework and financial implications and impacts on the affected communities.