A total of $436 million in funding, from both the provincial and federal governments, will be shared among Alberta’s municipalities to offset additional costs incurred due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Funds for the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) grant are allocated based on each municipality’s population, and many surrounding communities are planning how these funds will be used.
“Right now, all the (Village of Delia’s) equipment is old and mostly obsolete,” Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Tracy Breese told the Mail. “Our council chamber is small, and we are only able to hold six people as per COVID regulations, so we will have to turn people away that may want to attend the meetings.”
Breese says a request for decision will be brought before council during their next regular meeting in February to discuss using MOST grant funding to upgrade their current equipment to conduct council meetings over Zoom.
The Village of Carbon will use MOST funds to recover expenses from upgrading to touchless toilets and faucets at the campground and outdoor skating rink, and installing hand sanitizer dispensers and plastic dividers; the village will also use the funds to recoup lost revenue from the closure of the Carbon Centennial Swimming Pool and the partial closure of the campground between May long weekend and June 1 when it was permitted to reopen at 50 per cent capacity.
Some of the Village of Hussar’s MOST funding was donated to community groups, including the Sundowners Senior Centre and Emergency Management Committee, as well as the community hall and arena. The funding also allowed the village to upgrade and purchase new technology to conduct council meetings remotely, and recoup costs for additional cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment.
Hussar CAO Kate Brandt told the Mail, “In February’s meeting, I will bring forward the purchase of eNotice for our utilities and tax billing for a contactless delivery of bills.”
The Village of Rockyford also used MOST funds to help support their community organizations.
Rockyford Mayor Darcy Burke said, “We have received approximately $37,000 and council has approved $25,000 to be used for ongoing costs at the Rockyford Sportsplex, Rockyford Community Centre, and the Rockyford Library.”
Mayor Burke added expenses for the above groups will continue to be monitored and additional financial support may be given. Any remaining funds will be used to offset additional costs and lost revenue the village endured due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Counties are also included among the municipalities eligible to receive MOST support.
A spokesperson with Wheatland County shared the funds will offset “uncollectable oil and gas tax accounts from 2020 unpaid taxes.”
The Town of Drumheller received its MOST funding in October 2020.
These funds were used to cover additional expenses for personal protective equipment and cleaning costs, and cover lost revenue due to the closure of the Badlands Community Facility (BCF), Aquaplex, and Memorial Arena.
Lacie Nairn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Drumheller Mail