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Council approves $3.75 million borrowing bylaw to earn grant

St. Albert city council approved a $3.75 million borrowing bylaw on Aug. 15, which, in turn, has earned the city a $1.25 million grant.

St. Albert city council approved a $3.75 million borrowing bylaw on Aug. 15, which, in turn, has earned the city a $1.25 million grant.

Council learned last month that administration was successful in applying for the federal government's Community Building Retrofit (CBR) program this year, which is being administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), an advocacy organization that represents 2,000 municipalities across the country, including St. Albert.

As a stipulation of CBR funding, municipalities who qualify for the grant must take out a loan through the FCM before funding can be received.

The loan will appear on the city's financial records as being for the recently completed repairs and renovations done on Fountain Park Pool, which is the project the city applied for grant funding for. 

Although the repairs and renovations are completed, and were funded through the city's regular life-cycle budget, the loan will free up $3.75 million in future life-cycle funding. A report to council in July explains that administration is planning to put the $3.75 million towards the St. Albert RCMP detachment renovation and expansion project, which council approved a $7.5 million borrowing bylaw for late last year. 

Despite the RCMP detachment borrowing bylaw being approved nearly nine months ago, the July report to council says the city has yet to draw on the loan.

The report also says the $1.25 million grant will be used to offset future life-cycle costs for city facilities and operations.

After first reading of the borrowing bylaw was passed last month, multiple members of council said they thought taking out a loan to receive the grant was a “win-win” situation, and they expected full public support.  

On Aug. 15, second and third reading of the borrowing bylaw passed on consent, meaning there was no debate. The city will pay back the loan over a 10-year term.

More borrowing bylaws to come

Next month city council will debate the second and third reading for a $20.5 million borrowing bylaw for the next phase of construction on St. Albert Trail. 

Council unanimously passed first reading of the bylaw on July 4, however Coun. Mike Killick said he plans to vote against the borrowing bylaw in September.

“Personally I think we've not got the right priorities for what services that residents want right now,” Killick said at the time.

The borrowing bylaw is set to fund Phase 3 of the project, which is between the Everitt Drive North and Neil Ross Road intersections. 

Construction is planned to include an additional lane travelling in both directions, the realignment of southbound lanes to match the work completed during the first two phases, the installation of a parallel pedestrian trail, and required utility infrastructure and traffic signals.

If passed, the city's new debt total for the St. Albert Trail improvement project will reach slightly more than $42 million.

If the borrowing bylaw is approved next month, the city's long-term debt will reach about $129.4 million, which is slightly more than half of the city's policy-determined debt limit, and about 43 per cent of the city's roughly $300 million debt limit as dictated under the MGA.

Second and third reading is currently scheduled for Sept. 19.

Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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