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Council places discussions with EPCOR on hold

The negotiations between EPCOR and the City of Lloydminster over the Lloydminster Utilities Corporation (LUC) have been placed on hold.

The LUC came about as a solution to the financial problems facing the municipal government, after a needed upgrade to the Wastewater Treatment Plant came in at a cost which would have exceeded the borrowing limit of the municipal government.

A solution in the form of the LUC was presented to council in the early months of 2016, which met with a positive response from the majority of the councillors. However, when the idea went to the public, it was met with a less than positive response.

According to agenda documents from the Tuesday meeting of council, a number of concerns came to the attention of the municipal administration, many of which involved the desire of the community to retain local control, and keep funds in Lloydminster as opposed to Edmonton.

In addition to residents concerns, some challenges arose during the negotiation process itself. Councillor Linnea Goodhand, who brought the item forward on Tuesday, said those challenges included the value of assets in the deal, as well as loss of control of facilities.

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“We’re going to take  step back from that particular process and we’re going to see what else is out there,” said Goodhand.

“Once you get one path, you have to take some time to self-reflect and then figure out what’s next.”

Goodhand also said the decision made by council shows residents of the Border City their concerns are also the concerns of council.

“We’ve established that those concerns have merit, they are worth making sure that we’ve overcome them if we go forward, and we don’t want to lose sight of the forest for the trees on this one,” said Goodhand.

As for any personal views Goodhand has on the direction the municipal government to solve the wastewater treatment problem, she said she is still in the learning phase.

“I’m still trying to get a sense of what the risks and the rewards are,” said Goodhand.

“I think when it (a new proposal) comes to council, it’ll be because of all the questions that we’ve had, all the questions that our residents have been answered, and we have a proposal to put forward that we can get behind.”

Deputy CAO Kirk Morrison did not provide an exact timeline for when a new proposal for the LUC from administration will come back before council. However, he did say administration will be looking at new grant programs, such as the Clean Water Fund at the federal level.

“We’re always open to looking at innovative ways to meet our needs, and right now, I think there is a real opportunity to move forward with making a good business case for our governments to invest in Lloydminster,” said Morrison.

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