The Special Areas Advisory Council held their spring council meeting March 24 and 31, meeting virtually in recognition of current public health restrictions.
Advisory Council formally approved the 2021 road program as local road committees had reviewed it earlier this spring.
The continuing decline in assessment was also discussed, along with anticipated decreases in municipal grant funding and other revenue pressures over the next three years.
The group welcomed presenters from the Starland Seed Cleaning Plant who shared an update on the proposed seed cleaning plant project.
The group welcomed MLA Nate Horner who shared his insights on upcoming legislation.
Council commended MLA Horner for his hard work advocating for the region and congratulated him on his new role on the Treasury Board.
The group shared their concerns on municipal finances, especially considering decreasing provincial funding, declining assessment, rising levels of uncollected taxes, and increasing costs like provincial policing.
The focus on finding efficiencies and controlling costs was a consistent priority for the group, as well as ensuring sustainable requisition levels for municipalities in the region.
Some highlights included the expression of interest process for the Oyen Railyard and the AHS partnership project in Oyen supporting new dementia and assisted living beds.
As a result of public health restrictions, the 2020 annual ratepayer meetings were moved online in place of traditional in-person meetings.
The group recognized annual ratepayer meetings are critical for residents to have an opportunity to engage locally with elected officials and administration.
Advisory council directed administration to determine the most effective way to support local engagement for 2021 ratepayer meetings while still respecting current public health restrictions.
October’s general municipal election was also discussed, with key changes to provincial legislation presented which will impact this municipal election.
The next meeting of the Special Areas Advisory Council will be held summer 2021.