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City Council passes 2021 budget forecasting near 0% tax increase

The City of Cold Lake says it has passed its 2021 Capital and Operating Budgets with what they are calling “a near-zero-per-cent tax increase.”

The budgets include just under $44.7 million in operating expenditures (up from $44.3 in 2020), after transferring about $9.5 million to the capital budget, which has a total of $41 million in projects and capital purchases.

Council says it passed its budget after deliberations were held under the theme “Working Hard, Sailing Ahead.” The budget forecasts a 0.14% tax increase. The administration, however, uses conservative growth and revenue projections in its forecasts. This means, by the time tax rates are set, the tax increase required to balance the budget is often lower than originally forecasted.

“This has been a challenging time for communities around the globe and within Alberta, many communities have been hit particularly hard by the slowdown in the oil industry on top of the protracted economic downturn and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” Mayor Craig Copeland said. “Cold Lake is no different and now, more than ever, we must balance immediate needs with future visions. Our council is proud to have arrived at an exciting budget. This budget lays the foundation for future growth and economic development. It also maintains valuable services important to residents and makes significant headway on our infrastructure deficit.”

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Highlights of the 2021 Operational Budget include:

– Funding to replace the discontinued Parent Link with a municipal family and children’s services program named “Cold Lake Family Connections.”

– $40,000 towards a five-year grant funding stream to assist non-profit organizations in establishing supports, programing and intervention to assist vulnerable persons and the homeless in Cold Lake.

– Decreasing the recycling utility rate from $9.25 to $6.50 per month for residential properties and from $5 to $4 per month for multi-family properties. This reduction reflects the city passing on savings to residents. These savings were realized through a new service-delivery model for recycling in the community.

– $145,000 for summer ice at the Energy Centre under a pilot project.

Also due for implementation in 2021 is a 5% increase in recreation fees. This increase was budgeted for implementation in 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2021 budget also includes funding from the Municipal District of Bonnyville under the pending Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF), mandated by the Municipal Government Act.

“We have not arrived at the final ICF document yet, but we have a great working relationship with the MD of Bonnyville, who have been committed to the ICF process and to funding programs and services that are valued by all in the region,” Copeland said. “I thank Reeve Greg Sawchuk, his council, and their administration for their work.”

Of the $41 million in the capital budget, the city says the breakdown is as follows: Roughly $2 million in fleet and equipment infrastructure; environmental and utility infrastructure improvements worth about $8.7 million; approximately $9.1 million in roadway improvements to be added to over $2.2 million already allocated from the Municipal Stimulus Program; $18.4 million in facilities infrastructure; $110,000 in information services and technology; $20,000 for airport infrastructure (in addition to $150,000 already allocated for design); and $2.5 million for recreation infrastructure.

“The 2021 budget takes on a wide variety of projects, from trails, facilities and roads to underground infrastructure and a lakefront project that will help shape the future of our community for years to come,” Copeland said. “Most importantly, the projects in this capital budget should allow local firms a chance to secure a significant amount of work. Many of these projects should provide a boost to the local economy.”

Project highlights from the 2021 Capital Budget include:

– North Arena upgrades and modernization
– Lakeshore Drive enhancements and linear parkway
– Funding for an additional phase of the Kinosoo Beach Master Plan
– Design development of a community pool and aquatics centre
– Phase 1 of a new Public Works Operations Centre
– New RCMP Detachment Building (top-up funding)
– Animal Intake Centre (top-up funding)
– A kayak storage facility, and design and approvals for a new or enhanced boat launch at the Cold Lake Marina
– Funding for Phase 2 of the Mountain Bike Park – Skills Park
– Expansion to the Skateboard Park
– A public washroom for the downtown business area
– Design development of a look-out tower at the Cold Lake Museum site
– Wayfinding Signage (top-up funding)
– Additional floating docks for Kinosoo Beach and the Cold Lake Marina.

The above is not an exhaustive list of the projects contained in the 2021 Capital Budget. More information about the Operating and Capital Budgets will be posted at

The City says they’ll be setting their municipal tax rates in May.

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