The fate of the Lloydminster Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) has been sealed by city council.
During Monday’s meeting of council, the decision was made to dissolve the LEDC, and bring the function of economic development in-house to the city government.
The issue had previously come up in the last meeting of council, when city administration had presented the option of dissolution and absorption, which would have left all the current employees of LEDC out of a job, with an opportunity to re-apply to one open position in economic development.
Council did not pursue that option, and instead asked administration to come back with more information. In the meantime, the LEDC continued to operate on limited funding.
When administration presented to city council for a second time on the matter, the option of keeping on three employees of the LEDC was included. While the current LEDC employees will not necessarily be going into the City’s in-house economic development function, they will not lose their employment.
The option will require $80,115 in additional funding, compared to previous options put forward by the City.
Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Michael Diachuk said he was pleased to bring some closure to the LEDC employees.
“It’s been pretty stressful for them,” said Diachuk.
“They’re good people, they work hard, and I think they’ve done an incredible job, and we’ve invested a lot of time and money in them. They’ve done training and professional development, they know the city, they know what it needs.”
Diachuk said he thought the chosen option would allow the city to address the municipal deficit, while not losing the accumulated experience of the LEDC staffers.
Mayor Gerald Aalbers was also happy with the decision taken by council.
“We’re dealing with people,” said Aalbers.
“At the end of the day, we’re dealing with human lives. They’ve already lost some staff, so that is one of those things we can all appreciate. It would be like coming to your workplace and saying well, we’re not sure if you’re going to be here next week, or next month, or the next three months, so it’s important that we gave some direction.”
Councillor Ken Baker, however, had some reservations about the decision, repeatedly stating a desire to see the full budget reviewed before decisions on items like the LEDC were made.
“I think the planning, and the big race to get the budget done in December, is not good business in my mind, because we don’t have the information, we don’t have the facts, we don’t have the details,” said Baker, after the meeting.
“I think you look at all parts of the budget, where you’re overspending, where you’re under spending, where we’re getting value for money, there you can determine some of these other things.”
According to Aalbers, the municipal budget will be brought back to council on January 30 for final approval, with March 1 set as the target date for the changeover on the LEDC to be finished.