It was not a unanimous vote by Leduc County councillors, but the municipality will no longer be contributing funds to the River Valley Alliance (RVA) and will be asking for simple observer status within the organization.
The county has been paying $10,000 annually to the alliance and budgeted $10,000 for the 2017 year. However, the River Valley Alliance was looking for double that contribution to $20,000.
According to their website, www.rivervalley.ab.ca, the organization’s vision for the North Saskatchewan river is “To create a continuous world class metropolitan river valley park system from Devon through Parkland County, Leduc County, Edmonton, Strathcona County, and Sturgeon County to Fort Saskatchewan… and to preserve, protect and enhance the river valley to create one of the largest river valley park systems for the year-round accessibility and enjoyment of its citizens and visitors.”
Coun. John Schonewille — who attended the Feb. 14 meeting electronically via Skype — argued since the county had already budgeted $10,000 for the River Valley Alliance council should wait until next year to pull its support. He did support Smith’s motion to take effect in 2018. “I still get the $10,000 funding for this year. Next year is a different story.”
“We are still part of the RVA,” he added.
However, Coun. Rick Smith felt action should be taken for 2017.
“The area that’s in the River Valley Alliance area is also in the Edmonton annexation area, so it’s really hard to justify putting further ratepayer money into this until we get some further clarity on who’s still in the organization,” said Smith.
Councillors Smith, Audrey Kelto, Tanni Doblanko and Glenn Belozer voted in favour of cutting funding to the River Valley Alliance for 2017; while Mayor John Whaley, Schonewille, and Coun. Clay Stump voted against the motion.
Smith says $10,000 might not seem like much but it is ratepayer money going to an organization he does not feel the county has much status in. “And we’re really not providing the $20,000 they asked for either, which was a 100 per cent increase.”
Doblanko says she is in support of Smith’s motion to pull funding this year and going forward. “I believe the RVA is very richly funded. When you look at the information they’ve provided it seems that almost half of the money they collect goes into just people, not into what they’re doing.”