Recently approved allocations of the County of Wetaskiwin’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) funds have left some community groups without any of the funds they requested.
County council has allocated $231,094 in MSI funds to go toward six requests for community groups capital upgrades and repairs focused on recreation.
During discussions at council’s May 15 meeting councillor Terry Van de Kraats questioned why administration had recommended the Mulhurst Lutheran Church Camp Association received none of the $60,000 requested.
“Historically, with the MSI, we’ve seen the philosophy that (is) preventative maintenance and repairing existing infrastructure in nature,” said Geoff Lynch, director of leisure and community services.
Lynch says the Mulhurst Lutheran Church Camp Association’s request did not fall under that philosophy, as the proposed camp shower house would be a completely new structure rather than preventative maintenance or repairing existing infrastructure.
Van de Kraats says the camp provides a good recreational family and youth atmosphere.
Coun. Keith Johnson agreed, while the camp may be church affiliated, it still is providing similar recreational opportunities as other groups.
Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers says by providing the funds to the camp it could open the door to other church affiliated capital project requests. “Are we going to take on more than our recreational buildings?”
“I think it is precedence setting,” said Coun. Larry McKeever.
With no official policy in place CAO Frank Coutney says council has the flexibility to grant the camp’s request if it so wishes.
Van de Kraats motion to give the camp $10,000 was defeated three to three. Van de Kraats, Johnson and Coun. Garry Dearing voted in favour of, while Rooyakkers, McKeever and Coun. Pearl Hay were opposed. Coun. Lyle Seely was not in attendance at the meeting.
Dearing suggested administration direct the association to apply for programming funding rather than MSI, where it may be more successful.
The Pigeon Lake Athletic Cultural and Educational (PLACE) Society also received no funds for a $33,920 concrete and in-floor cooling system.
However, PLACE was approved for $15,718 for rink repairs and $30,000 for a storage building project, contingent on the society providing written approval from the Wetaskiwin Regional Public School Board as well as following all County of Wetaskiwin development permits.
McKeever says he sees the same groups on the request list year after year and questioned why others are not applying.
Lynch says some groups he talks to about MSI opportunities do not need the funds, following the philosophy basis.
“I definitely spread the word,” said Lynch.
Along with PLACE’s two approved requests, county councillors approved $69,875 for three Lakedell Agricultural Society requests. Another $115,500 went to the Winfield and District Agricultural Society for exterior agriplex repairs.
The Winfield and District Agricultural Society requested $94,000 for agriplex interior repairs, however, administration recommended no funding for the project. Administration recommended the county communicate with the Winfield and District Agricultural Society to obtain a more detailed list of the work to be completed and present a revised application to council.
The county’s 2017 MSI Community Facility Funding program retains $126,508 for further allocations.