By Cole Parkinson
Work on the Municipal District of Taber’s Recreation Master Plan is continuing and they are looking for some feedback on the plan and three policies concerning the document.
On Sept. 14, council reviewed the final draft of the three proposed recreation funding policies (Land Trust Reserve Fund Policy, Operation Grant for Recreation Boards Policy and Donations Policy) and made a recommendation to present all three policies at the next council meeting.
The policies and Recreation Master Plan were in front of council at their regular meeting on Sept. 22. Objectives of the Recreation Master Plan are facilitating local and regional recreation services, addressing regional issues for services, supporting growth and change within the community, enhancing capacity building within communities, formalizing recreation funding criteria and processes and planning for potential changes in financial situation.
The purpose of the Land Trust Reserve Fund Policy is “to establish guidelines for the secure management and orderly investment and disbursements from the Land Trust Reserve Fund. These funds are accumulated through cash-in-lieu contributions made by developers when subdividing land.”
“Municipal Reserve Funds must only be used for municipal projects or publicly owned/operated facilities on public lands or for the purchase of public lands. They may not be used for projects with public characteristics on private land or which are privately owned or operated. For the purposes of this policy, Public Lands are defined as land owned by federal, provincial or local governments,” reads the policy.
The policy also states funding requests from the Land Trust Reserve Fund shall be decided by council throughout the year.
Any school board funding from the Land Trust Reserve “shall be limited to school projects located in the Municipal District of Taber, Town of Taber, Town of Vauxhall and Village of Barnwell. Park and recreation area funding from the Land Trust Reserve shall be limited to projects located in the Municipal District of Taber.”
The Operational Grant Policy’s purpose is “to establish consistent guidelines for the secure management and orderly disbursements of operational grants to Recreation Boards, Towns and Villages within the Municipal District of Taber.”
Grant funding distribution will be based on a point system with each type of recreation facility assigned points and M.D. hamlet recreation boards will receive $15,000 (Hays and Enchant) and $25,000 (Grassy Lake).
The Town of Taber, Town of Vauxhall and Village of Barnwell are included in the calculation and must submit a facilities list and financial statement by April 30 to the M.D. in order to receive funding.
The two towns and village “have complete discretion as to how they wish to distribute the funds.”
“When towns and villages, and recreation boards submit their lists of facilities, they would be facilities that are funded through their recreation services,” explained Bryan Badura, director of corporate services. “For example, a school playground or school ball diamond, if they are not being funded by that particular organization, we wouldn’t allow them to include those facilities in their inventory list. The same goes for a community group that maybe falls within the municipality of another town or village, that doesn’t receive direct funding, we wouldn’t likely include that facility on the inventory list. That organization would be eligible to apply.”
The Donations Policy’s purpose is “to establish consistent guidelines for council to donate financial resources or provide in-kind support to community programs, organizations, events and activities”, “to provide the authority to the Chief Administrative Officer regarding requests for donations up to a value of $500” and “to provide clear procedures for administration and council to provide and respond to requests for donations.”
The policy details what organizations are eligible, the type of donations available, the criteria of how each application is evaluated, the funding allotment/allocation and how organizations will be notified of council’s decision.
Administration also stated funding for recreation is set at $72 per capita with a current population of 7,178 in the M.D.
With the policies and master plan available for viewing to the public, council was hopeful residents would provide feedback on the documents.
“We haven’t had many platforms where we have asked for (public feedback) and if we feel these groups should have a look, be involved and consult then it’s up to us to share that beyond social media and our website,” said Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
“I think it may be good to share it with the contacts that we have. I think most groups are looking at changing how we do our rec funding. If we have a way to share that with those groups,” added Deputy Reeve Jen Crowson.
With the process far along since inception, council also wanted to give a shoutout to administration, particularly Badura who has spent a good amount of time getting it up to where it is today.
“We are making progress, and it is significant progress, in how we administer recreation funding. It’s taken a while but thank you,” said Reeve Merrill Harris.
The M.D. has uploaded all four documents to http://www.mdtaber.ab.ca/p/local-notices including a survey that allows residents to provide feedback.
The deadline to provide feedback is Oct. 19 and the policies, along with feedback, will be brought back for council’s meeting on Oct. 27.