Statement from County of Grande Prairie Reeve Leanne Beaupre regarding the City’s motion to proceed to arbitration with the County to create an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

The changes to the Municipal Government Act in 2018 introduced mandatory Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks (ICF) between municipalities that share borders. Based on this new requirement, the County is mandated to establish eight ICFs. The County has seen the success and efficiencies of local governments working collaboratively, establishing six of the required eight ICFs with our municipal neighbours.

During a recent meeting with the City of Grande Prairie to determine how to proceed with the ICF agreement, the County of Grande Prairie Council reaffirmed its position to continue with the mediation process. Unfortunately, City Council restated their intent to end mediation and proceed to arbitration. 

The mediation process is meant to help municipalities jointly and collaboratively identify and define what municipal services will be delivered by which municipality and how these services will be funded, with the best outcomes for the citizens in mind. The mediation process is also the most cost-efficient way to reach an agreement.

The County is disappointed in the City’s decision. The County believes significant progress had been made through mediation.  The County has acted and will continue to act in good faith in all discussions with the City and is prepared to come to an agreement that is fair to County and City citizens alike, recognizing give and take is required by both municipalities.

From the beginning, the County has stated that it is prepared to pay it's fair share for the services and amenities accessed by County citizens. The County has always recognized the reciprocal benefit the City and County citizens receive from the services and amenities both municipalities provide.  In addition to the revenue sharing agreement, the County has been contributing to many groups and will continue to do so for the wellbeing of our region.

A service delivery framework that best serves the people who live and work in the City and the County should be built by those people, not imposed by an outside body. The County continues to believe that such a framework – one created by local government with the needs of local citizens in mind – is in the best interests of both municipalities.

The County believes that moving forward with arbitration will come at a significant cost to the County’s resources, especially when resources could be invested elsewhere considering our economic reality and the challenges of COVID-19.

While the County still believes a framework created by two neighbors through consensus will help build a positive relationship between two municipalities, the County also has trust in the arbitration process set out in the MGA to ensure an objective and fact-based resolution to the dispute. 

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BACKGROUNDER

Statement from County of Grande Prairie Reeve regarding the City of Grande Prairie’s motion to proceed to arbitration with the County to create an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Alberta MGA and ICFs

Current status: County ICFs with neighbouring municipalities

  • Based on this new requirement, the County is mandated to establish eight ICFs.
  • To date, the County has established six ICFs through a collaborative model of local decision-making. Our finalized ICFs include the MD of Greenview, Birch Hills County, Saddle Hills County, Town of Sexsmith, Town of Beaverlodge, and the Town of Wembley.
  • The ICF between the County and the Village of Hythe has been deferred by the Province until completion of Hythe’s viability review.

County ICF with the City of Grande Prairie

  • On November 4, the County received a letter from City Council officially stating their motion to end mediation between the County and the City and refer the creation of the ICF between the two to an arbitrator for final resolution.
  • On November 9, County Council sent a letter to City Council reaffirming that it maintains that mediation is the best path forward for both municipalities. The County outlined options that it believes are very feasible and attainable alternatives to arbitration and provided very workable solutions.
  • On November 17, County Council sent a letter to the Minister of Municipal Affairs reinstating its position that mediation is preferred, and that there are feasible and attainable alternatives to arbitration.
  • In a meeting on December 18, City Council restated its intent to end the mediation process and proceed to arbitration.

How does the County currently fund programs and services in the City?

  • The County has annually provided funding to the City for the use of services through a revenue sharing agreement. In 2020, this amount was $1.27 million.
  • Annually, the County funds many local groups and organizations whose work benefits the region. In 2020, these groups received $6.1 million.

For more information on Intermunicipal Collaboration, visit www.countygp.ab.ca/ICF.