Wheat­land fund­ing opens door to re­gional co­op­er­a­tion

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Kyle Smylie

The Town of Drumheller re­cently re­ceived fund­ing from Wheat­land County to help pay for Drumheller’s in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices their res­i­dents uti­lize, a step to­wards in­creas­ing re­gional co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Drumheller and sur­round­ing coun­ties that coun­cil has been work­ing to achieve.

Town coun­cil ac­cepted $17,974 from Wheat­land County as part of a re­gional in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices pro­gram, which was ini­tial­ized this year. The fund­ing amount was based on cal­cu­la­tions of Wheat­land’s to­tal pop­u­la­tion di­vided by the ser­vice area pop­u­la­tion, and for Drumheller, Wheat­land says, this equates to 2.4 per cent of their res­i­dents us­ing Drumheller’s fa­cil­i­ties. Drumheller’s por­tion is from a to­tal $750,000 fund­ing pool.

“They’re rec­og­niz­ing that we do per­form ser­vices for the peo­ple they’re re­spon­si­ble for,” said Mayor Terry Ye­men. “There’s no for­mal pol­icy in place for them to do this.”

The agree­ment now in place spec­i­fies that the fund­ing be al­lo­cated to in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices. As there are nu­mer­ous in­fra­struc­ture ser­vices pro­vided by the town, the am­bigu­ous lan­guage of the agree­ment al­lows the ben­e­fit of hav­ing the funds al­lo­cated in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways, but that same am­bi­gu­ity has left some ques­tion marks for coun­cil.

They're rec­og­niz­ing that we do per­form ser­vices for the peo­ple they're re­spon­si­ble for... there's no for­mal pol­icy in place for them to do this." Mayor Terry Ye­men

“The word in­fra­struc­ture it­self means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple,” said coun­cil­lor Jay Gar­butt, who voted in op­po­si­tion due to the agree­ment's am­bi­gu­ity.

“I didn’t think the agree­ment was spe­cific enough… The fact that coun­cil chose to ac­cept the agree­ment as pre­sented means that of course we’re grate­ful for the re­sources but we still have to go back and do some work with Wheat­land to see what their ex­pec­ta­tions are and how they ar­rived at that num­ber.”

The agree­ment be­tween Wheat­land and Drumheller opens the door for fur­ther col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the two neigh­bour­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, said Mayor Terry Ye­men, who ex­plained the two plan on dis­cus­sion co­op­er­a­tive part­ner­ships in or­der to en­hance tourism such as in­stalling run-

ning wa­ter and flush toi­lets at tourist at­trac­tions like the Hoo Doos.

Coun­cil and the mayor’s of­fice plan to work with the town’s two other neigh­bour­ing coun­ties, Star­land and Knee­hill, to reach re­gional agree­ments, as well.

“We ex­pect that in the next year or two we’ll have sim­i­lar agree­ments with all our re­gional part­ners,” said coun­cil­lor Gar­butt. “It’s the be­gin­ning of what we hope to be agree­ments with all our sur­round­ing county part­ners be­cause the prov­ince of Al­berta has pretty much laid down their ex­pec­ta­tions, say­ing they ex­pect this level of col­lab­o­ra­tion, re­gional co­op­er­a­tion, and as­set shar­ing to start to oc­cur.”

But Mayor Ye­men re­in­forced that Wheat­land’s de­ci­sion to share funds with Drumheller was vol­un­tary on their part, and the other sur­round­ing coun­ties are not for­mally re­quired to do so.

“It’s in their hands. Cer­tainly, we work with the other MDs (mu­nic­i­pal dis­tricts) and when we talk about joint part- ner­ships like wa­ter we want to work to­gether. We re­ceived out­stand­ing sup­port from them on the Bad­lands Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­ity,” said Ye­men.

“We’ve been in con­ver­sa­tions with our re­gional part­ners as well about our unique sit­u­a­tion here in Drumheller,” said coun­cil­lor Gar­butt.

“We are not ac­tu­ally within a county, but we are sur­rounded by three. If we were in­side a county, you bet that the county would con­trib­ute on an an­nual ba­sis to­wards the op­er­at­ing costs of a great many things that we do here, be­cause their cit­i­zens would be ben­e­fit­ting from it.”

This is the first year Wheat­land County has con­trib­uted funds to Drumheller for in­fra­struc­ture, and plans to make an­nual pay­ments for the next four years.

Mayor Terry Ye­men

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