Council voted 7-0 not to fund a second year of contributions to Edmonton International Airport
by Colin Smith
Morinville will not contribute financially this year to a regional initiative to increase the number of flights at Edmonton International Airport, but has left the door open to do so in 2023.
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the board received a proposal from administration asking the city to suspend its contributions to the Air Services Opportunity Fund, a unique three-year initiative by the airport and regional advocacy body. of Edmonton Global Investments.
However, the Council has instead decided not to pay the planned contribution for 2022, but to consider contributing more next year.
In June 2021, the Board approved a contribution of $28,194 for this year to the Air Services Opportunity Fund following a presentation by the EIA and Edmonton Global.
With a funding target of $15 million, the fund aims to increase the number of international flights at the airport, which had dropped drastically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The money would be used to offset the start-up costs of targeted direct flights to and from strategic destinations,
The concern was that if the number of flights to the EIA did not return to previous levels, it would have a significant impact on the regional economy, decreasing business competitiveness and resulting in fewer visitors spending money here. , in addition to being a nuisance for local residents who have to make connections to get around.
Edmonton Global has solicited three-year contributions from Edmonton Global member regional municipalities, with each share based on a cost-sharing formula derived from equalized assessment and population.
Morinville was asked for a three-year contribution to the fund of $122,750, with a payment of $28,194 the first year, then $47,278 in 2022 and 2023.
The Board approved the first year contribution, with expenditures for the second and third years to be authorized upon receipt and acceptance of the measures and results to their satisfaction.
The decision was controversial and was made on a four-three split vote. The three current council members who served on that council, Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe, Councilor Rebecca Balanko and Councilor Scott Richardson, voted against the decision.
At Tuesday’s meeting, there was general agreement that the Air Opportunity Fund contribution should be dropped due to Morinville’s precarious financial situation and questions about reporting the fund’s results.
A motion to this effect was on the table when councilor Ray White moved that it be amended so that instead of simply removing a contribution in 2023, council could reevaluate the possibility.
“The one thing that I think it might be in our interest to consider is that we do nothing in the 2022 budget and revisit it in 2023,” White said. “It would give us more time to monitor the success of the money that has been put forward by other communities and we would also see what our financial situation will look like in 2023.”
The amendment was passed with a no by Balanko.
Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe, who originally proposed writing to Edmonton Global to say the city would not contribute to the Air Services Opportunity Fund in 2022, said he objected during from its first presentation last year. “I’m glad we’re not going to contribute this year,” he said. “When we receive information [on the impact of the program] it may well be wise in 2023 to revisit this.
The motion passed unanimously.
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