Mayor Rick Pankiw has returned from the FCM convention in Ottawa hopeful that new inroads have been made with the federal government.
“It was very informative,” he said. “And the more times you can put yourself in front of the right people, the better chance you have of making a difference.”
Pankiw, along with Rimbey CAO Lori Hillis, councillors Jack Webb, Matt Jaycox and Brian Godlongton attended the conference held May 31 to June 5.
The group arrived in Ottawa on the evening of May 31. They began their day on Thursday with a parliament tour with MP Blaine Calkins.
Pankiw said he enjoyed the tour and meeting with Calkins, which was followed by a question period and a trade show reception.
He later met with Ontario/Saskatchewan councillors who are also struggling to get infrastructure dollars.
Pankiw said he is especially concerned about receiving funding for the 51st Street project which involves changing the wooden pipes at the intersection of highways 20 and 53. He said it’s an approximately $4.2 million project and for the past four years government funding requests have been turned down.
“And we don’t have enough MSI funding to handle a project like that on our own.”
The mayor said a workshop held Friday dealing with innovative solutions to municipal economic changes was informative.
“I spoke with Minister Sohi regarding (the initiative) Building Canada Funding for Rural Communities,” he said.
Pankiw also met with MP Adam Vaughn regarding writing of grants for aging infrastructure and he and CAO Lori Hillis met with Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett and CAO Albert Fluteman.
The last two days of the convention involved the annual general meeting and elections of the FCM and meetings with Gurpreet S. Vinning, policy advisory and special assistant for western Canada Infrastructure and another meeting with MP Blaine Calkins.
“All of council attended this meeting regarding Building Canada Grants from Federal Government,” he said.
He noted that there was a discussion about the grants not getting distributed to rural municipalities in Alberta and how the funds can be better divided.
Pankiw said Alberta had a high attendance of delegates at the FCM. He is hopeful the strong voice of Alberta representatives will make a difference.
“It is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease.”