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Mountain View County's adopted resolutions include call for health-care training

Mountain View County Reeve Angela Aalbers says she is pleased the county's resolutions found support among the 69 member municipalities in the RMA

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY - Three resolutions put forward by Mountain View County at the recent Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) fall convention have been adopted, including a call for more to be done to train laboratory and x-ray technologist to work in rural health care.

Reeve Angela Aalbers says she is pleased the resolutions found support among the 69 member municipalities in the RMA.

The three resolutions focus on the following: laboratory and x-ray technicians training for rural health care; renewable energy projects reclamation requirements; and loss of agriculture land to renewable energy projects.

“We thank the Sundre Wellness committee for bringing the issue forward regarding the limited post-secondary training opportunities for combined laboratory and x-ray technologist (CLXT),” Aalbers told the Albertan.

“We believe bringing this issue forward to the government now will allow sufficient time to include expansion of training opportunities for CLXT under the Alberta post-secondary 2030 vision.  

“CLXTs really support rural hospitals by combining two extremely critical health-care functions into one position which increases efficiency and reduces staffing costs.”

The two resolutions focused on renewable energy aim to ensure that developers pay for end-of-life reclamation of renewable developments, she said.

“We are trying to stop the province from repeating mistakes that are now obvious with orphan wells and brownfields and ensure that sufficient funds are set aside by developers upfront to reclaim projects at the end of their useful life,” she said.  “We also want to encourage the province to balance the need for renewable energy with the need to produce food.

“With the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) as the approver of renewable energy projects, municipalities and taxpayers must rely on the province to provide a transparent future land use policy to ensure that good quality agriculture land is not detrimentally impacted by energy development projects.”

Premier Danielle Smith delivered an address at the conclusion of the RMA convention, calling for increased cooperation between rural municipalities and the provincial government.

Reeve Aalbers said she is encouraged to hear that pronouncement.

“We were pleased to hear the premier speak of municipalities being partners with the provincial government, realizing we both serve the same taxpayer,” she said. 

“We are hoping that this is reflected in the funding formula forthcoming from the province regarding the local government fiscal framework, the grant replacing the municipal sustainability initiative grant.  

“We hope when the funding formula is released, it not only respects that municipalities require predictable funding, but also reflects the vast road and bridge infrastructure that we as rural municipalities are responsible to operate and maintain and the dollars required to do that.”

Premier Smith also spoke about a potential new grant or revenue stream for municipalities that may be created to allow more of the Alberta School Foundation Fund (ASFF) dollars to remain with municipalities. Reeve Aalbers also welcomed that proposal. 

“These are the funds that are collected through municipal tax collection and are transferred to the province,” she said. “In 2022, out of $45.8 million of tax that was collected by the county, $12.8 million of that was transferred directly to the province for ASFF.”

During her speech, Smith announced her intention to address the matter of unpaid property taxes owed by oil and gas companies to municipalities.

“I’ve tasked Minister of Municipal Affairs Rebecca Shultz with consulting with the RMA and energy industry on the issue of linear tax and unpaid municipal property tax bills,” said Smith. 

“We are working on finding a long-term solution to cleaning up unused well sites so that we can also put that land back into production.”

The RMA says more than $250 million in unpaid property taxes is owed to its members by oil and gas companies. As of September 2022, Mountain View County was owed $98,590, including $14,460 in education taxes that would be forwarded to the province.

Dan Singleton

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