“The action we take will ensure that Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality have the time and tools they need to move forward.”
Those words from Danielle Larivee, Minister of Municipal Affairs, regarding Bill 21 and the effect it will have on the region.
Many are fearing the impact the Bill would have, including Mayor and Council.
The biggest effect it would have on the region would be our tax ratio. Right now, the ratio for non-residential to residential is 18.3/1. The municipal government act (Bill 21) would change the ratio to 5:1. This could lead to major loses in revenue which means less funding for infrastructure, projects and services or a steep rise in taxes.
“While it did say, the ratio could not go any higher it did not require them to bring it down at this time,” said Larivee.
Right now, the municipality can keep their current ratio as the Government of Alberta is allowing the area some time to fully adjust to the new ratio.
“I’ve had specific conversations with a number of council members, as well as staff, from the regional municipality who are quite confident they can achieve the ratio in a reasonable, responsible which would not be devastating,” she said. “There are a lot of tools to get to that ratio and time to do it and at this point it’s about a conversation.
Larivee says she is committed to allowing the RMWB the time it needs to fully adjust and at this point are not giving them a deadline. As it stands, the area has as long as they need to make sure the Bill’s affect won’t be devastating when the ratio is changed.
“While they would have to achieve the ratio, it would be to regulate and create a time frame going forward,” she said. “This is about having a flexible solution to work with the municipality to move forward in that responsible way.”
Residents can still send their feedback to the Government of Alberta, regarding the Bill, until January 31. They have an online questionnaire on their website, alberta.ca.