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Town of Olds' request for REP cost offset funding denied

“I also understand that the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt in many municipalities, and I appreciate the Town of Olds' concern about the continued impact the pandemic has on its municipal finances. At this time, we do not have plans for further COVID-specific funding," wrote Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver
REP Heather Ryan-1
Coun. Heather Ryan said the province should backfill Olds' costs for implementing the Restrictions Exemption Program because it required the Town of Olds to do so.

OLDS — Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver has turned down a request from the Town of Olds for money to offset costs incurred as it implemented the Restriction Exemption Program (REP). 

McIver gave that answer in a letter received by the Town of Olds on Feb. 15. He was replying to a letter asking for that money, written by Town of Olds Mayor Judy Dahl. 

Council received that letter during its Feb. 28 meeting. 

“I understand the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on municipalities,” McIver wrote. “ln response, the province partnered with the federal government in 2020 to introduce the Municipal Operating Support Transfer to support municipalities during the initial phase of the pandemic. 

“This funding, along with the Municipal Stimulus Program, was designed to help municipalities get through this difficult time and stimulate economy recovery.  

“I also understand that the impacts of the pandemic are still being felt in many municipalities, and I appreciate the Town of Olds' concern about the continued impact the pandemic has on its municipal finances. At this time, we do not have plans for further COVID-specific funding.  

“However, I remain committed to continuing our strong support for municipalities through our existing grant programs, such as the Municipal Sustainability initiative, as well as seeking opportunities to reduce red tape for municipalities and business.” 

Coun. Heather Ryan still thought more needs to be done by the province. 

She said the Town of Olds had to incur costs to implement the REP, a program that it was required to implement at the behest of the provincial government. 

“So there (were) additional costs downloaded to the community by the province’s decisions and further, they shouldn’t be allowed to say ‘no’ to the funding, because it – we incurred those costs due to their decisions on this,” Ryan said. 

Alberta Municipalities is holding spring caucus meetings March 9 and 10. Ryan said the Town of Olds should bring up the matter again. 

“I think if we have an opportunity, perhaps we could mention this during that time,” she said.