Budget concerns and reduced access to grant money has forced the Town of Drayton Valley to consider debenturing some of the costs for the remainder of the 50th Avenue project.

Elvera Thomson, the General Manager of Finance for the Town, says council has to have a borrowing bylaw in place before they can start the application to borrow funds. In total, the Town may be borrowing up to $4,037,593.

The 50th Ave project requires a debenture of $1,679,898. For the water distribution project, there may need to be a debenture of $2,357,695, although that amount may be lower if grant funding is approved. .

“[The 50th Ave Project] we will be borrowing on. We will be borrowing on the other project, however, we don’t know the exact amount,” Thomson says.

Thomson says the Town was expecting to debenture some of the costs for the water distribution project, but thought there would be more available grant funds. She says they even thought that the wildfire might make it more likely Drayton would receive the grants,

“The wildfire didn’t necessarily change that we were going to be debenturing,” says Thomson, “but on our end we thought that we were going to be bumped up on the importance. If we get the grant we will only be debenturing $889,100.”

The Town has been saving money for the 50th Ave project using the Gas Tax Fund program with the Province. 

“When we first started planning this project, we thought it was going to be covered by Municipal Sustainability Initiative and the gas tax,” says Thomson. 

However, the scope of the project changed because of the underground infrastructure that had to be dealt with. “The scope changed, and that was why we are required to debenture the remainder.”

Thomson says if they do debenture the funds, the Town will be at 42 percent of their borrowing room allowed by the Municipal Government Act.

As of December 31, 2023, Drayton Valley had just over $13 million in debt, says Thomson. A large chunk of that was for the new Ricochet Aquatic Centre, and some of the remaining will be paid off in the next couple of years.

Across the country, aging infrastructure that needs replacing or maintaining is becoming a high priority for governments of all levels. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities released an Infrastructure Report in 2019 that showed that there are concerns in roads, bridges, recreational facilities, and water infrastructure across the country.

By Amanda Jeffery, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Feb 29, 2024 at 09:17

This item reprinted with permission from   Free Press   Drayton Valley, Alberta

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