Are towns getting enough?

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The town of Brent’s Cove isn’t alone in their plight of troubles with providing residents with basic services, like decent water supplies.

The fact of the matter is, they’re like a lot of municipalities – suffering from years of ill-informed mismanagement and overwhelming debt that won’t allow them to get anywhere in the system that’s supposedly designed to help them.

Back in the day, towns and government split their loan portions for capital works 50/50. That was the deal someone entered into whenever they wanted something like pavement, or water and sewer, etc.

A town was expected to pay half, and the Provincial Government paid half.

Now that sounds like a decent little deal to some, but when you think about the fact that a project is $100,000 bucks or more, you realize pretty quick that we’re not talking about chump change.

Fast forward a few years, and things have changed on the open landscape a bit. Governments have changed, people have changed, the economy has changed, and things are a far cry from back when this loan deal was made.

So now you’ve got the town, and they’re faced with a couple of dilemmas. First, they’re in the hole, big time. Second, they’re losing people left, right and centre who are flying off to Alberta to make the big money, but yet the money that’s coming into the town is getting less, and less, and less.

Now sure, some towns are still doing alright – but others, like Brent’s Cove, are feeling the pinch now with a population south of 200.

The problem, though, is that the town still has these loans hanging over their heads. They’re out of cash, and the fox is at the door. What do they do?

Well, ideally, they’d be able to turn to the province for help. Now, the province’s form of help is simple: we’re going to keep the money from you that we were going to give you to run the town, and we’re going to pay off your loan with that.

In other words, the Province withholds the town’s Municipal Operating Grant and pays it on their loan, to help them get out of debt.

That’s all well and good, but where does that leave the town? Well, basically it leaves them with a budget not much higher than the average homestead.

Meanwhile, as this is all going on, we have another problem. The people of the town are without running water because their town in so deep with the Province they’re looking up to see the bottom.

You know, you hear all these talks in the states of towns declaring Bankruptcy, and you think it’s so far away. But to be honest, I don’t think it’s overly unrealistic.

I’m not just talking about Brent’s Cove here now, because with a bit of help, they’ll be on their feet again – but how many towns are in the same boat? Can’t see the forest for the trees? Not really knowing which was is up?

We don’t hear much about them because they’re likely tied up in some Government bureaucracy, never to be heard from again. I just hope that those who need help actually get it.

– Rudy Norman

Geographic location: Alberta

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