The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
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Town council discusses membership with CAEP
By Brittany Willsie
Staff Reporter 

On Nov. 16, town council met for their regular meeting in council chambers where they heard from members of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP).
Appearing as a delegation, CAEP board members Kimberley Worthington, James Carpenter, a business representative from the Town of Olds and Megan Hanson, Mayor of Sylvan Lake, presented on the benefits of the partnership. 
The purpose of the delegation was to provide information to council in hopes the Town of Rocky Mountain House would rejoin the partnership. The town left CAEP in November of 2019 as the council members at the time determined CAEP no longer aligned with their goals. The topic of rejoining CAEP has been recurring on council’s agenda the last few weeks. 
During the delegation, Carpenter discussed the importance of having the Town of Rocky Mountain House on board as a part of the province’s economic development. 
“The bottom line is the rebuild of Alberta is going to come through rural Alberta – through value added and technology in oil and gas and through agriculture and I believe that Rocky Mountain House is really well positioned,” Carpenter said. 
He went on to later state that Rocky is a key player along the Hwy. 11 corridor. 
Following the presentation, council discussed the benefits of joining the partnership as well as why council decided to withdraw from the partnership in the first place. 
Mayor Debbie Baich expressed her interest in rejoining the partnership.
“I think the economic development of our community is a priority for our town. We need businesses to come and do development. It’s very important for our financial stability … I think it’s very short sighted to have a meeting with transportation this week at the AUMA (Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) if we have not even taken the initiative to join a group like CAEP who come together and work in partnership with each other.” 
Councillor Dave Auld reiterated some of the reasons council chose to leave CAEP in the first place. 
“To try and rejoin CAEP in my opinion is not where we want to go … we’ve been involved with CAEP for 20 years. To try and qualify what we’ve gotten out of CAEP, I’ve struggled with after the last three weeks,” Auld began. 
“I can’t put an actual monetary dollar figure on a return investment that we’ve had.”
One idea was that the town should align themselves with neighbouring municipalities and organizations who are already members of CAEP as economic development is a regional issue. 
“Moving forward, if we want to keep going down that road, I would rather see it as a joint use. Clearwater County is involved in it; the chamber is involved in it. If we’re involved in it, I see it going down the road as all three of us joining together,” Auld said. 
Council did not reach a decision at the meeting. 
Rather, councillor Len Phillips suggested the decision should be discussed during future budget deliberations as rejoining CAEP with a membership cost of $0.60 per capita in 2021 and $0.70 in 2022 and $0.80 in 2023 is a budgeting issue. There are also additional costs associated with time, travel and meals for council members and staff.
The total estimated cost for a CAEP membership in 2021 would be $5,481, with $3,981 coming from the per capita cost and $1,500 from meeting expenses. This cost does not include compensation for councillors and staff.