By Justin Seward
Cypress County was the last municipality to pass the Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) agreement at its March 24 council meeting, joining their neighbouring communities in Medicine Hat and Redcliff.
“The province’s main focus here was to try and get municipalities that border each other to look at areas of service delivery where there could be mutual benefits to both municipalities,” said Jeffrey Dowling, the county’s director of municipal services.
“And through all of that, getting municipalities to work together where it makes financial and economic sense and where service delivery would be beneficial to the residents in both municipalities and to communicate with one another.”
It was on Nov. 19, 2019, that Alberta Municipal Affairs announced changes concerning the ICF as a part of Bill 25, the Red Tape Reduction Implementation Act, which amends the Municipal Government Act.
The act now wants services that benefit residents in more than one municipality to be identified and addressed by describing the service being provided and how that service will be distributed and funded. Whereas before the ICF was only to address services relating to transportation, water, wastewater, solid waste, emergency services, recreation and any other services that would be of benefit to the municipality via council decisions.
“The City of Medicine Hat, Town of Redcliff and Cypress County put a lot of work into our ICF through the use of our consultant Stan Tec,” said Dowling.
“That whole process started back in June of 2018 to bring this all the way to here.”
The ICF will address the following: the establishment of an intermunicipal committee with the three municipalities having representation, that upon passage the committee shall review the ICF at least once every four years, any amendments to the document requires mutual consent from all three municipalities by passing separate resolutions, establishes a process for a municipality to initiate a project or a shared service with either or both municipalities.
Furthermore, it establishes procedures for changes to existing service agreements or initiating new agreements, identifies roles for council or administration, provides an overview of the services provided and recognizes the existing agreements in place, acknowledges the Tri-Area Intermunicipal Development Plan and outlines a dispute resolution process.
The county also passed an ICF with both the County of Forty Mile and Special Areas.
The document outlined that all the municipalities have similar characteristics in that they are rural based on building and maintaining core services including roads, bridges and emergency services that are designed to service an agricultural and resource- based economy.