The County of Wetaskiwin is fighting for more say and participation in decisions handed down by the provincial government regarding rural municipalities and proposed service and tax changes, specifically in regards to the provincial Oil and Gas Assessment Model Review.
Reeve, Terry Van de Kraats and Deputy Reeve Josh Bishop say that one of the issues that the County has been fighting with these provincial recommendations since the beginning is the lack of discussion that has been had with the rural municipalities directly impacted by these decisions.
A month ago County Councillors, including the Reeve, met with Minister Nixon and five other municipalities to discuss the Assessment Model Review. Since then they have also had discussions with MLA Rick Wilson about the Assessment Model Review and it’s drastic impact. The Reeve has also sat down for lunch with Premier Jason Kenney to voice the County’s concerns.
Although the provincial government has ruled that option four in the Assessment Model Review, which would have seen a 70.7 per cent raise to residential mill rates for Wetaskiwin County, is off the table, the County views all options put forward unfavourable.
Deputy Reeve, Josh Bishop, says that the County is still pushing for a fair deal.
“Assessment needs to be assessment,” says Bishop. “it can’t be used as a tool.”
Bishop says that the County has been advocating for more discussion and inclusion for rural municipalities like Wetaskiwin, since before the Assessment Model Review findings were even released.
“In all the discussion we’ve had and information we’ve received the province was comparing us to other municipalities and not looking at the total picture,” says Reeve Van de Kraats.
The County of Wetaskiwin has two public engagement sessions planned for Sept. 29 and Sept. 30, 2020 where the Oil and Gas Assessment Model Review and the impacts Wetaskiwin County will face from them will be the forefront of discussion.
Only 50 people at a time will be able to attend in person because of COVID-19 restrictions, so the County will have pre-registration online through the County website for the events. On Sept.29, 2020 the engagement sessions will be held at the Alder Flats Community Hall, and Sept. 30, 2020 the engagement sessions will be held in Mulhurst Bay Community Hall. Both dates will have two engagement sessions to provide as many people an opportunity to attend as possible. For both dates engagement session one will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 pm. and session two will be from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
The engagement sessions will focus on the proposed Oil and Gas Assessment Model Review, changes to the province’s police costing model, roads, and hamlet revitalization.
In addition to the public engagement sessions, Councillor Bishop says that the County plans to continue to “participate in every step that they allow us to.”
To register for a public engagement session visit https://www.county.wetaskiwin.ab.ca/740/Public-Engagement.