Province won’t back MLA’s funding claim for lodge

A Wildrose MLA’s announcement that Rimoka Housing Board has received $13.3 million to build a new lodge in Rimbey

A Wildrose MLA’s announcement that Rimoka Housing Board has received $13.3 million to build a new lodge in Rimbey doesn’t seem to hold water with either the provincial government or Rimoka.

In a press release dated April 15, Joe Anglin, Wildrose MLA for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House- Sundre, said he had received confirmation from the Acting Minister of Municipal Affairs, Greg Weadick that the community of Rimbey and the Rimoka Housing Board had received $13.3 million for a new seniors lodge in Rimbey.

But Emily Woods, press secretary for the Minister said Weadick never confirmed that information with Joe Anglin.

“It is unusual for an opposition MLA to speak on behalf of the provincial government,” she said. “The announcement is premature.”

However, the government is prepared to make a statement at a later date.

“Redeveloping senior lodges is a priority for the government and an announcement on funding for projects will be coming the near future,” she said.

Rimoka board chairman Paul McLaughlin agreed Anglin’s announcement was premature.

“While an announcement is imminent, there are critical pieces to the decision, funding and approval process, that have not been met. Funding for rural senior’s lodge renewal for projects like Rimbey involve federal funding and we must respect the communications protocol in that funding agreement.”

McLaughlin said the board is thankful for Mr. Anglin’s efforts on this project by advocating for its approval, however, his eagerness for a distribution of credit for the facility approval is premature and without merit.

“His announcement undermines the board’s commitment to work with the ministry and to leave announcements to a future date when credit can be given.”

The Rimoka board also took exception to the fact former Ponoka County Councillors Gawney Hinkley and Keith Beebe and Rimbey councillor Jack Webb were singled out in Anglin’s press release as the primary individuals who promoted a new lodge in Rimbey.

“Federal, municipal and provincial partners along with a succession of three ministers, three mayors, three councils, three successive board and chairs and the Bethany Group have been working together to approve the project and that is where credit deserved to go,” said McLaughlin.

Anglin said his government would have had a prioritized infrastructure list.

“We would have known and prepared for this important announcement,” he said.

However, McLaughlin said the board is in consensus with saying that politicizing of this facility along partisan lines or otherwise is a discredit to the people of Alberta and jeopardizes this project for the citizens of Rimbey.

“MLA Anglin has not discussed the project with the board for more than two years, so it is regrettable that he has chosen to prematurely announce the project and to announce his interpretation of who deserves credit.”

The Rimoka Housing Foundation was created under the Homes for the Aged Act in 1959. Its purpose is to provide seniors and social housing services in the County of Ponoka and the towns of Rimbey and Ponoka.

The board consists of representatives from the Rimbey, Ponoka, Ponoka County and the Royal Canadian Legion. It is a nonpartisan sovereign board that works cooperatively with all levels of government in order to provide for senior and social housing needs.