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RMWB reviews post-emergency financial recovery

Last Updated Mar 25, 2020 at 11:45 am MST

PHOTO. Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation CEO Kevin Weidlich speaking with members of RMWB Council back in Nov. 26, 2019. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood.

RMWB Council passed a series of motions addressing the economic recovery of the Municipality after COVID-19.

CEO of the Wood Buffalo Economic Development Corporation (WBEDC), Kevin Weidlich presented several recommendations to the RMWB Council.

He said the necessary public health restrictions imposed by all three levels of government could have consequences for the local economy.

“They also have the unfortunate negative consequence of siphoning economic activity. Indeed, the economic consequences are of such a large magnitude that will affect the world economy in many unpredictable ways.”

Weidlich also referenced the double-hit of low prices and low global demand for oil on Alberta’s energy sector.

Restrictions also impacted hospitality and recreation centres, hotels, and leisure operations.

Many closed or saw significant reductions in revenue due to public health restrictions.

Council asked the administration to produce recommendations for a commercial property tax referral program.

Weidlich said this should support local businesses hiring residents in post-emergency recovery.

Mayor and Councillors also passed a motion to look at its existing capital construction program.

RMWB Council also approved the Downtown Revitalization Incentive Pilot Program.

Finally, Mayor and Councillors gave their approval for forming a financial recovery task force.

The so-called “Post-Emergency Financial Recovery” task force would develop programming and business supports.

Weidlich said these could go into effect after the lifting of the last provincial or local emergency orders.

“This would be funded by existing [WBEDC] funding, RMWB top-up funding for WBEDC to administer, or through appropriate grants depending on the scope of the program or projects from other orders of governments or organizations.”

Weidlich said the task force would also comprise WBEDC board members, elected officials, municipal administration representatives.

It would also include local business leaders from areas such as finance, tourism, recreation, oil and gas, and other small to medium-sized businesses.

RMWB Council expects the task force to return with budget recommendations as soon as practical.

RMWB Council also halted the bylaw enforcing a ban on single-use plastic bags.