Investing in agricultural societies
Alberta’s 283 primary and seven regional agricultural societies will receive $11.5 million per year in government funding for the next three years to help build a strong, rural economy, a sustainable agriculture sector and vibrant communities. This longer-term commitment ensures that agricultural societies can plan ahead and budget for the facilities, events and education they provide in their communities.
“I’m pleased that we can continue to support the vital work that agricultural societies do in our province to encourage growth in the agriculture industry and rural Alberta, and educate the next generation of farmers and ranchers. Ag societies are our partners in delivering many community-centred initiatives, including Alberta Open Farm Days, farm safety education, trade shows, agricultural celebrations and much more.”
Buildings such as curling and hockey rinks and community halls are often run by agricultural societies in small communities, giving families access to activities and gathering spaces in their hometowns. Many societies also put on rodeos, summer fairs, bench shows, workshops and countless other events that bring people together to celebrate and learn about agriculture and rural life.
“We are very pleased at the Government of Alberta’s continued commitment to agricultural societies and the communities they serve. These volunteer-driven organizations need stable funding to plan for the future, and continue to do the important work of promoting agriculture and enhancing the quality of life of Albertans.”
Agricultural societies operate about 700 community facilities throughout Alberta, and collectively have more than 65,000 volunteers who support activities.
Municipalities benefit from PERC
At last year’s fall Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties convention, Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson announced a provincial tax credit for uncollectable education property taxes on oil and gas properties. The Provincial Education Requisition Credit, or PERC, is retroactive to 2015, when oil prices began to fall, and will operate until 2019.
After the first round of applications to PERC, 37 communities have been approved for tax credits, for a total of more than $3 million. Municipalities can continue to apply for PERC for uncollectable education property tax in the 2018 and 2019 assessment years.
“As a government, we are committed to listening to what rural communities need to make life better for their residents. PERC was developed in direct response to what I heard when I spent time visiting municipal leaders in rural Alberta last year. They told me they were struggling with tax recovery challenges, and we made it a priority to find a solution.”
“Lac La Biche County is pleased that the province recognizes the need to ease the financial burden on municipalities in these tough economic times. We appreciate the Government of Alberta’s responsiveness to the concerns that we and others have voiced about uncollectible school taxes. We look forward to continuing to see the benefits of the PERC program.”
Other support for rural Alberta
At the beginning of March, the government of Alberta announced a seven-point action plan to fight rural crime. The plan includes an $8-million investment in 39 new officers, 40 civilian staff and $2 million to hire additional Crown prosecutors. The strategy will help reduce rural crime by putting resources where they’re most needed.
The province is also helping rural municipalities by supporting the Municipal Climate Change Action Centre. The centre provides funding, technical assistance and education to help Alberta municipalities address climate change and will use $54 million in funding from the Climate Leadership Plan to deliver multi-year programs for small-scale community generation, energy-efficiency upgrades for buildings, solar energy for schools and more.
Since taking on the Municipal Affairs portfolio in January 2017, Minister Anderson has visited dozens of communities, connecting with rural Albertans on a variety of topics. The minister plans to visit even more communities throughout 2018.