Another census is in the works for the region.
RMWB Council voted unanimously in favour of conducting the 2020 Municipal Census at their meeting on Oct. 8, 2019.
They must also ask the province for approval to include the region’s shadow population.
Mayor Don Scott said the census should address the discrepancy between school rate increases and total population decreases from 2018.
“We’re seeing a trend at the school boards showing an increase in school population upwards of ten per cent, but our last census indicated a ten per cent downward trend, so we need to get our numbers in line.”
The 2020 Census should begin on April 1, 2020, with a proposed budget of $780,000.
The region would qualify for federal and provincial grants based on results from the enumeration.
For example, the region received the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) grant estimated at $45.72 per capita or $5.1 million based on the 2018 population count.
When adding the Basic Municipal Transportation Grant (BMTG), the MSI estimated at $53.09 per capita or $4.14 million.
Also, Wood Buffalo got the Gas Tax Fund grant estimated at $58.18 per capita or $6.49 million.
Mayor Don Scott said the current numbers are inconsistent.
“Let’s figure out the correct numbers: We get more money the more people who live in the region, so there’s a great reason to do these. Every time we show there [are] more people living here, we’re going to get a bigger cheque from the other levels of government, which is what we always want.”
He added he met with more newcomers to the region lately, so he hopes the census will reflect that.
Council voted to defer the option to work with Fort McKay Métis Nation on the hamlet’s community centre.
Councillor Allen introduced the motion, which received unanimous support.
The Municipality will partner with them to develop a cost analysis, master plan, and proposed capital and operational estimates.
RMWB Council should hear from the administration about progress within 90 days.
In his presentation, Ron Quintal of the Fort McKay Métis Nation said the facility, along with other projects, would help bring the hamlet into the 21st century.
Previously, there was a discrepancy between community interests for the pavilion.
Most members from the Fort McKay First Nation, who spoke with the RMWB, were against its construction.
However, Quintal said the First Nation is now on board as the Métis Nation would have access to their facility.
Chief Mel Grandjamb of Fort McKay First Nation wrote a letter of support for its design.
There were some questions about the scope and overall estimated budget, as Council approved $6.2 million for the project in December.
“We’re going to take another hard look at it.” Mayor Don Scott said. “So we can determine exactly what the changes are that caused an increase in the potential cost.”
Neither the administration or Quintal could speak to the new overall budget of nine million dollars for design, construction, and land acquisition.
Council should expect an update on the Fort McKay Community Centre closer to the new year.
Finally, RMWB Council approved unanimously to commit $131,700 to budget for Rogers Hometown Hockey.
They voted to allocate funds from the 2019 Division operating budget.
Mayor Don Scott said the weekend event gives Fort McMurray valuable national exposure worth an estimated one million dollars.
“It’s a priceless investment. You literally cannot buy that kind of exposure; this is such a great event for this region at this time.”
However, during the debate, there were a few questions of logistics.
The administration commits $20,000 to rural involvement.
This would go toward the planning of activities in neighbouring rural communities like Fort McKay, Anzac, Conklin, and Janvier.
Also, $30,000 would go to marketing initiatives such as local advertising, and event giveaway items.
40-60 staff and paid ambassadors would reside in the region for Rogers Hometown Hockey pumping an estimated $350,000 in the region.
Mayor Don Scott said the event will show a rebuilding community, thank Canada for its support during the wildfire, and inspire the next generation of hockey players from Wood Buffalo.
Rogers Hometown Hockey comes to town on Nov. 23-24, 2019.
Fort McMurray first hosted the event in 2014.
Mayor Don Scott recognized the week of Oct. 15 as Poverty and Homelessness Awareness Week.
Council approved of an external audit service plan from Deloitte LLP, the Provincial Shallow Gas Tax Relief Initiative, and 2019 Capital Budget amendments.
They also voted in favour of amendments to the Community Investment Program (CIP) Policy.
The amendments call for seven changes to the Community Capital Grant.
Furthermore, councillor Allen made a motion to strike ineligibility for commenced capital projects under that grant stream of the CIP.
Council voted in support of that motion.
Finally, the mayor and council voted unanimously for free transit for residents on Election Day on Oct. 21, 2019.
The next council meeting takes place on Oct. 22, 2019.
On that day, RMWB Council will review Mayor Don Scott’s motion to prepare a bylaw prohibiting conversion therapy in Wood Buffalo.