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News Review
City Council Highlights
Posted Date: 4/23/2018 11:15 PM

Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership

Council approved the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), as presented.

The Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership involves the City, the County of Grande Prairie, and the Municipal District of Greenview working to align efforts to establish a world-class industrial development.

The project area is 335 square kilometres, about half the size of the City of Edmonton, geographically, within the Municipal District of Greenview.

These efforts have evolved to a point where the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership Committee can formalize its activities through an MOA.

The MOA clarifies the intent of the municipalities while establishing a framework for them to make decisions and ultimately form a corporate entity. This initiative has the potential to stimulate significant economic activity throughout the region.

Net Revenue Sharing of the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership Project will be divided to each of the municipalities based on the ratio of funding committed to the Tri-Municipal Industrial Partnership by the parties.

The Funding Formula proposed in the Terms of Reference is: MD of Greenview 50%, County of Grande Prairie 25% and the City of Grande Prairie 25%.

Council’s Strategic Plan – 2019-2022

City Council approved its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan, as amended. Council’s coveys its vision and direction for the organization by approving a strategic plan, which covers a four-year timeframe.

The Plan will be used to directly support a new Priority Based Budgeting process for future budgeting cycles, starting next year. The Strategic Plan’s Vision is: Grande Prairie is a vibrant, connected and inclusive community with a resourceful spirit. We leverage diversity and seize our growing opportunities by embracing challenges.

Six strategic priorities are identified in the Plan: Economy, Service, Infrastructure, Safety, and Governance. Each priority has a values statement and definitions to chart results of the organization’s activities.
Council will weigh decisions through lenses of these factors:
• Environmental
• Financial
• Social


Corporate Objectives fall under the statement: Innovative and High-performing Collaborative Organization.

2018 Alberta Summer Games

Council approved using anticipated Alberta Summer Games Legacy funds to make facility improvements in advance of the 2018 Alberta Summer Games. Administration was directed to work with the Summer Games Committee to identify appropriate facility improvements for funding.

From July 19-22, nearly 3,000 athletes and officials will descend on the region for the Games. They will be here to compete and connect in 13 sports including basketball, soccer, athletics, football, lacrosse, and mountain biking.

Games Chair Lionel Robbins and Event Manager Lindsey McNeil appeared before Council to provide an update with less than 100 days left before the Games. More than 1,200 volunteers are needed to host the Games.
Click here for more information about volunteering or other aspects of the Games: https://albertasport.ca/alberta-games/summer-games/

Request for Transit Stop – Arbour Hills – St. John Paul II Catholic School

Council approved providing transit service for students in the Royal Oaks area as requested by the Grande Prairie Catholic School Board on a pilot basis for May and June.
The service will be evaluated by school administration and Transit Department to determine if there’s sufficient rationale to resume the service this fall. The cost for the two-month pilot project is about $14,000. The School Board has agreed to fully cover these expenses.

The Catholic School Board is opening a new school in the Arbour Hills area north of 132nd Ave on April 30.

Transit management had previously met with school district staff on February 17, 2017. Two items were discussed – the opportunity for Transit to add a stop to an existing route to serve the school and the potential for Transit to operate a route similar to the St. Joseph/Charles Spencer route as per their submission to Community Growth Committee.

The resulting report to the Community Growth Committee on April 18, 2017 had Management provide the following recommendation, “That Community Growth Committee recommend that the considerations for public transit service to St. John Paul II Catholic School be postponed until such a time that the area meets the transit service standards for deploying new service.”

Several factors were considered including budget, location of the school in relation to existing services, the potential to attract and serve other riders, existing industry, and City Transit planning service standards.

The Transit Department also consulted with the City’s Engineering Department. Transit management determined that the transit system is unable to provide any additional service requests due to the lack of time in the existing schedule to extend any routes as the school is not located near any existing route. As well, there is not sufficient budget to allow for any additional services.

Management notes the school is located in an area that is void of any other development therefore there is no ability to service other potential transit users, unlike the St. Joseph/Charles Spencer route. Therefore any service provided for this school will solely benefit the school and not the general public.

These issues were presented to the Catholic School Superintendent. That discussion resulted in a supplementary request for an immediate need – transit service for the students in the Royal Oaks area. In this case, the School Board will fund the operation of a transit bus to provide those students transportation to and from the school. Specific details in terms of routing are currently in the planning stage.

2018 Property Tax Bylaw

Council approved Bylaw C-1380 - 2018 Property Tax Bylaw which makes official the two per cent municipal tax rate increase set during budget deliberations last fall.

Council Committee of the Whole conducted budget review meetings from Nov. 15-17 where administration presented several recommended adjustments to the 2018 Operating and Capital budgets. 

These recommended adjustments were meant to refine budget estimates and lower the municipal property tax increase from the original 5.95% down to 4.2%. Additional scenarios were presented, one reflecting a 3.0% tax increase and another reflecting a 0% tax increase. Council Committee of the Whole directed administration to implement the 3% scenario, utilizing reserve funds to further reduce the municipal property tax increase to 2.0%.

This was accomplished using $1 million from the Financial Stabilization Reserve. The impact to the average home owner an additional $69 per year. A house valued at $360,000 would have generated municipal taxes of $3,385. The two per cent increase results in that rising to $3,454 in 2018.

This is the fourth year of a four-year business planning cycle. The initial four-year plan presented Fall 2014, required a 4.2% tax increase each year. The first three years of this business planning cycle saw increases of 3.6%, 2.25% and 0.51%.

Lower than originally proposed tax increases, resulted in a reduced tax base going into the final year of this four-year cycle, causing a requirement of 5.95%, which was further reduced to 4.2% through both expenditure and revenue adjustments.

Unaudited Financial Statements

Council approved the transfer of the $2,605,000 Operating Surplus to the Financial Stabilization Reserve, as per Policy 338.

The City’s budget articulates Council’s strategic objectives and contains a significant number of assumptions. Once approved, it remains a relatively static document that becomes a guide for management and provides a tool for financial analysis.

Operating variances result from differences between approved budget and actual financial results. Internal and external factors influence operating variances and include population growth, operating efficiencies, economic conditions, availability of resources, weather conditions, and unforeseen conditions.

Management is responsible to regularly monitor and manage the overall operating results to ensure that service delivery is maintained at acceptable levels and that operational costs are contained within available resources.

The size and nature of variances experienced in 2017 are consistent with historical results. The surplus of $2.6 million represents approximately 1.58% of the total budget for the City.

The largest contributors to the surplus are: Fiscal Services ($2.6M), Corporate Services ($0.7M), Infrastructure & Protective Services ($0.4M), and City Manager ($0.1M).

Cash & Temporary Investments at the close of 2017 are lower than at the close of 2016 by $5.9 million. This is the result $1.6 million more in Investments and a $3.9 million collective reduction in payables. The latter is mainly a result of scheduled debt repayments. 

Taxes & Grants in Lieu of Taxes consist of municipal taxes that have not yet been collected. The December 31, 2017 balance is about $2.1 million higher than the prior year close. Trade & Other Receivables and Agreements Receivable are lower by an offsetting $1.9 million. Despite minor swings in both Financial Assets and Financial Liabilities, Net Financial assets close 2017 a marginal $0.2 million less than 2016.

Tangible Capital Assets consist of assets with a useful life longer than one year that have been capitalized plus work-in-progress on capital projects, not yet completed.


Audited Consolidated Financial Statements

Council approved the audited consolidated financial statements of the City for the year ended December 31, 2017.

The Municipal Government Act (MGA) requires each municipality to prepare an annual financial statement, audited by the Council appointed auditor. The information included in the financial statements is submitted as a Financial Information Return to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

As City owned entities, the audited financial statements for the Grande Prairie Public Library and the Grande Prairie Airport Commission are consolidated in the annual audited financial statements. The result of operations for Aquatera Utilities Inc. is also included in the consolidated financial statements as an Other Item – Subsidiary Operations.


The Consolidated Statement of Financial Position demonstrates the following characteristics: 

• Portfolio Investments net decrease of $8,512,631 is partially offset by an increase in Cash of $4,386,514. The remaining $4,126,117 contributed to TCA additions and to reduce debt per the debt repayment schedules.
• Trade and Other Receivables net decrease of $596,704. This is mainly the result of a $1,177,620 decrease of MSI grants receivable (recorded in 2016 and received in 2017), a $166,673 decrease in Dividend receivable and a $748,534 increase in trade and other receivables.
• Investments net increase of $10,821,062 is due to the increased proportionate share of equity in Aquatera Utilities Inc. for 2017.
• Long Term Debt net decrease of $7,976,589 is mainly a result of regularly scheduled debt payments. The long term debt of $130,435,996 is well within the provincially legislated debt limit of $262,345,845.
• Tangible Capital Assets net increase of $17,993,663 is mainly due to new construction and improved engineering structures, added municipal reserve land less amortization and disposals.
The Consolidated Statement of Financial Activities and Accumulated Surplus:
• Accumulated surplus represents the combined results of unrestricted surplus (operating and capital), restricted funds (reserves), equity in tangible capital assets and investments. There is a net increase of $33,389,438

Special Recreational Services Tax – Pinnacle Ridge

Council approved Bylaw C-1381 – 2018 Special Recreational Services Tax – Pinnacle Ridge.

Prior to 2010, The City funded the operation and maintenance of the Pinnacle pond fountains and front entrance water features after they were turned over from the developer.

This funding was not sustainable and notice was given to the local residents that these features would be removed. The residents of Pinnacle Ridge wanted to keep the water fountain and entrance water features. They formed the Pinnacle Ridge Neighbourhood Association in 2010 and gathered approximately 700 signatures in a community petition to generate support for a special tax levy to pay for the fountains and front entrance feature.

The amount determined to cover these expenses was $20/household. The first levy was approved by Council in 2011 and for seven subsequent years, City Council has approved this Special Tax against land in an identified area of Pinnacle Ridge for ongoing maintenance and operation of the water features.

In 2016, the levy was proposed to increase to $25/household due to rising costs to support the features and was approved by Council as amended.

The Pinnacle Ridge Neighbourhood Association has been notified about the proposed bylaw and has indicated its support. In accordance to the Municipal Government Act, a special tax bylaw must be passed annually.

2018 Road Rehabilitation and Overlay Phase 2

Council awarded Tender T-02-552-18 to Wapiti Gravel Suppliers Ltd., for $2,714,399.78 exclusive of GST, as the lowest, qualified bidder meeting the City specifications.


The Road Rehabilitation and Overlay program is an annual initiative responsible for the upgrading and preservation of the City’s existing road network. It is divided into phases to reflect different types of construction – overlay versus rehabilitation. It allows for more manageable projects that fit within the budget.

The program sites are determined using the annual Road Matrix survey data, consultation with Transportation Services and on site evaluations by the design consultant and Administration.

The Phase 2 tender consists of three overlay sites. Road overlay is required to extend the life of an existing road structure and improve the ride quality of the road. For two of the sites, the work consists of milling off or profiling a layer of the existing pavement and installing a new asphalt pavement surface. There is also some spot replacement of concrete curb gutters and sidewalks, as well as various storm sewer repairs.

The third site is a rural section of roadway that requires an improvement to the strength of the roadway structure. This site will have an asphalt levelling course applied to level out the roadway surface and then two new lifts of asphalt pavement will be installed.

Locations

• 116 Avenue from Railway Crossing to 100 Street
• 99 Street/121 Avenue from 112 Avenue to 100 Street (Hwy 43)
• 84 Street from 68 Avenue to 100 Avenue

2018 Road Rehabilitation and Overlay Phase 3

Council awarded Tender T-14-552-18 to Knelsen Sand and Gravel Ltd., for $2,201,577.50 exclusive of GST, as the lowest, qualified bidder meeting the City’s specifications.


The Road Rehabilitation and Overlay Program is an annual program responsible for the upgrading and preservation of the City’s existing road network. This program is broken into phases to reflect different types of construction (rehabilitation versus full depth reclamation) and to allow for more manageable projects that fit within the budget.

The program sites are determined using the annual Road Matrix survey data, consultation with Transportation Services and on-site evaluations by the design consultant and Engineering Services staff. The Phase 3 tender consists of one Full Depth Reclamation (FDR) site in Brochu Industrial and two residential collector overlay sites.
These include:
• Landing Drive from 100 Ave. to 104 Ave.
• 90 St. from 95 Ave. to 100 Ave. and 96 Ave. from 90 St. to 92 St.

FDR is required to improve the strength of an existing road structure. The work consists of pulverizing the existing pavement and mixing it into the granular base structure. Cement foamed asphalt is mixed into the structure and compacted and then the new pavement structure is placed on top. Overlay is required to extend the life of an existing road structure and improve the ride quality of the road.

The work consists of milling off, or profiling a layer of the existing pavement, and installing a new asphalt pavement surface. There is also some limited spot replacement of concrete curb and gutters and some minor storm/sanitary manhole repairs.

2018 Catchbasin Manhole Repairs

Council awarded tender T-07-552-18 to Reco Construction (2010) Ltd., for $656,219.24 exclusive of GST, as the lowest, qualified bidder meeting the City’s specifications.


As part of an annual program, the City completes repairs and replacements to storm manholes and catchbasins based on results from the previous year’s inspections performed by Engineering Services. Areas to be inspected are determined through discussion with Transportation Services as to which areas are requiring greater amounts of repairative maintenance to the storm structures.

Inspections are performed and the data is analyzed by Engineering Services to evaluate the structural integrity and to identify infiltration. Structures that no longer meet requirements are identified for repairs or replacement.

Subdivision Time Extension Policy

Council passed Bylaw C-1323B, an amendment to the Subdivision Authority Bylaw and adopted Subdivision Time Extension Policy 620.

When subdivision time extensions are applied for, a significant amount of time has usually passed. Past practice was to refuse requests beyond two years since Administration had no way to evaluate risks associated with changes to planning documents, legislation or stakeholder comments that may affect the subdivision approval.

A Time Extension Policy provides guidance and clarity in evaluating time extension requests. The policy includes a change to the approval process with an amendment to Bylaw C-1323 and sets out evaluation criteria for approving or refusing time extensions.

The change to the approval process allows for more timely approvals. Recirculating the approval and setting out evaluation criteria allows the City to assess the risk in approving or refusing time extensions. The Subdivision Authority Officer, in consultation with the City Solicitor, drafted a Time Extension Policy that allows for the evaluation of subdivision time extension requests and for timely approvals.


Legal review is that the City should have one policy that applies to all subdivisions. Criteria to differentiate between small and large developments would be arbitrary. Considerations for evaluating a request for a time extension would be the same regardless of the number of lots or the number of hectares. There is no distinction between small and large subdivisions for the purpose of applying for, or approving a time extension.

All time extensions are processed in the same manner, and are evaluated using the same criteria. Additionally, legal opinion was provided regarding establishing a firm timeline when circulating time extensions, and has been added to the policy.

The Subdivision Bylaw was further amended to reflect a change from Community Safety Committee to Infrastructure & Protective Services Committee, resulting in the rescinding of Bylaw C-1323A and recommendation to establish Bylaw C-1323B.

Delegation Business – Ban of Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags

Council referred to the standing committee process the presentation made by area resident Maurissa Hietland, urging a ban of single-use plastic shopping bags.


She noted the Regional Municipal District of Wood Buffalo has already done so. On September 1, 2010, the single-use shopping bag bylaw came into effect in that municipality. This bylaw eliminates the use of single-use shopping bags in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.