Canmore mayor says provincial offloading is costing town millions

Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert says the province is offloading costs to the municipality, and that means difficult decisions during an already difficult tax year. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)
Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert says the province is offloading costs to the municipality, and that means difficult decisions during an already difficult tax year. (Helen Pike/CBC - image credit)

The mayor of Canmore says his town is spending about $3.2 million, or 10 per cent of the town's annual budget, on costs the provincial government should be responsible for.

Town administrators tallied up costs they believe the province is offloading onto the municipality — things that typically are up for the province to pay, like emergency medical response in Kananaskis, medical calls covered by local firefighters and the training it takes to ensure those professionals can respond.

"It certainly doesn't seem fair," said Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert.

"We are at the ground level providing services to our residents. If a province holds tight on funding and doesn't provide cost of living increases, we are in fact now funding that service."

Krausert said the totals that administration presented don't fully account for some costs the town hasn't yet determined. But he said this  $3.2 million baseline figure gives Canmore something to discuss with the province.

"We want to come to the table as collaborative partners, but there are certain things we need support with," he said.

WATCH | Canmore Mayor Sean Krausert says the town is paying millions on items the province should cover:

In 2021 the town spent $106,000 providing emergency medical services and keeping up with required training. Canmore administration projects it will spend $121,000 in total on those services this year.

Because Canmore's firefighters also respond to water rescue calls in Kananaskis, years ago the town had to invest in a boat. The town has had to maintain that piece of infrastructure even though calls in Kananaskis aren't in its jurisdiction.

In addition, the province's Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant, which supports local infrastructure projects, was cut substantially for Canmore in 2022 — going from about $4.8 million to $2.6 million.

Province says 'significant' grant funding provided to municipalities

Adding to Canmore's financial issues with the province is its reduced revenue from photo radar ticket fines, which has fallen because the province now takes back more cash from those tickets.

Other issues include costs the town takes on to certify local peace officers to a new provincial standard and the fact that municipalities are now being charged for some routine RCMP lab work required during investigations.

Finally, wildlife issues are costing more for the town as municipalities now have to pay to dispose of dead wild animals.

Kayla Gamroth, press secretary for Alberta's minister of municipal affairs, said the province is committed to providing municipalities with predictable, sustainable infrastructure funding.

"Significant grant funding is provided to all municipalities under the MSI," Gamroth said in an emailed statement.

"The Town of Canmore has received more than $67 million in MSI capital funding since 2007, including more than $2.6 million in 2022-23. A further $200,000 in MSI operating funds were also allocated in 2022-23."

Gamroth said the province has also reinstated its fire services training program grants, which gives fire departments $500,000 a year to help keep knowledge and skills up to date.