During the regular council meeting on April 2, the Wheatland County Council deliberated on a $916,702 funding request from the Wheatland Housing Management Body (WHMB).

This request, outlined in a letter from the WHMB chief administrative officer dated March 22, sought funds to advance the design phase of a new hospice and lodge project to expedite its readiness for construction.

"While the council had previously approved funding for the construction phase, design expenses were not covered under those terms," stated the council. "The proposed financing for the project would either tap into an unallocated surplus or be obtained through long-term borrowing, aligning with the anticipated lifespan of the project, estimated at 60 years or more."

They continued, "The overall cost projection for the Wheatland Lodge development amounted to $52,739,184, with Wheatland County's share being $3,985,914."

"The $916,702 sought for the shovel-ready initiative was not an additional request but a portion of the overall funding intended to facilitate pre-construction preparations."

During the meeting, Councillor Glenn Koester highlighted the provincial requirement that grant funding be allocated only to shovel-ready projects, underscoring the urgency of advancing the project to that stage.

Reeve Amber Link voiced concerns regarding accountability and transparency within the WHMB board, particularly citing misinformation and limited access to pertinent information regarding the lodge project.

She proposed drafting a letter to Jason Nixon, the Minister of Seniors, Community, and Social Services, outlining these concerns and requesting a governance review of the WHMB.

"In light of these concerns and the need for further clarification, council members suggested delaying the approval of a letter of support until the county administration could provide more comprehensive information," the council explained.

Councillor Shannon Laprise recounted previous discrepancies in the WHMB's financial reporting, emphasizing the need for more transparent communication and accurate financial disclosures. Despite these concerns, Laprise motioned to conditionally support the WHMB's funding request, subject to several conditions to improve transparency and accountability.

The motion passed with a 5-2 majority.

Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to news@strathmorenow.com.