Funding targets service delivery improvements

Five communities in western Manitoba are receiving grant funding thanks to the provincial government’s previous commitment to investing $5 million for support service delivery improvements.

In March of last year, the province earmarked the $5 million for nine municipalities under its Municipal Service Delivery Improvement Program. The program provides municipalities and planning districts with financial support to complete reviews of its programs and services, which can help communities improve service delivery without having to raise taxes, the province said.

Nine communities in total are receiving $1.35 million this year, the second year the province has accepted applications under the program. In western Manitoba, those communities include the Town of Neepawa, and its surrounding rural municipalities of Rosedale, North Cypress-Langford and the Municipality of Glenella-Lansdowne for an operations review of the Yellowhead Community Recreation Centre; the Municipality of Two Borders for a review of its recreation and cultural services funding; the RM of Westlake-Gladstone for a review of its regional recreation programming; and the City of Dauphin, which will be receiving grant money for a review of its fire department operations.

The RM of Gilbert Plains, located 191 kilometres north of Brandon, will be conducting a review of its office, administration and accounting processes. Without the provincial funding announced Monday, Reeve James Manchur said he doubts the municipality would be able to undertake such an endeavour.

“It’s all about efficiency,” Manchur told the Sun, adding he hopes the review will reveal where things can be streamlined in the administration of the RM.

Grace Carr, the chief administrative officer of the Municipality of Two Borders, located 131 kilometres southwest of Brandon, said people in the community are used to going outside of it to seek recreation services such as libraries and sporting arenas. The review of that community’s recreation and cultural services funding will help in organizing the different services community members are using more efficiently.

Providing grant funding under the program will help local governments discover and then do something about areas that need to be improved, Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke stated in a press release Monday.

The money the province invests will generate a return on investment through the savings municipalities and planning districts will see, giving them better value for their money, she added.

“Manitobans depend on local governments to deliver important programs and services as effectively and efficiently as possible. This funding will help these municipalities and planning districts to identify areas of potential improvement and enhance services without raising taxes.”

Clarke also announced that the province would once again be accepting applications for provincial funding through the program in the future. Service delivery programs eligible for review include transportation, safety and protection, water and sewer, recreation and culture, waste management, planning, general government administration and other “core services.”

Last year, the first intake of the province’s program resulted in 11 projects receiving more than $1.1 million combined, including the City of Brandon, the Municipality of Russell-Binscarth, the RM of Riding Mountain West, the Municipality of Clanwilliam-Erickson, the Municipality of Alexander, the RM of Yellowhead, the Town of Neepawa and RM of Rosedale, the Municipality of North Cypress-Langford, the Municipality of Glenella-Lansdowne and the Municipality of Killarney-Turtle Mountain.

The Sun contacted the Town of Neepawa, the RM of Westlake-Gladstone and the City of Dauphin for comment, but did not receive a reply by press time.

Miranda Leybourne, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun