Hythe seeks viability review to determine future

Facing dwindling revenue, the Village of Hythe has decided to ask Municipal Affairs for a viability review, the first step in the process to determine whether it stays as a Village or dissolve and become part of the County of Grande Prairie as a hamlet.

The Village said more than $500,000 in revenue – representing 40% of its assessed tax base – was lost, when grant money stopped coming from the province to cover for institutions with tax-exempt status under the Alberta Municipal Government Act. These institutions include government, churches and school.

Grants under the province’s Municipal Sustainability Initiative have also continually shrunk over the years, the Village said, citing a 35% drop in 2020 alone.

With the financial challenges, the Village said it is no longer able to address rising operational costs and infrastructure needs.

“A viability review is a way to ensure we’re moving forward in the best way possible for our residents and businesses,” Hythe Mayor Brian Peterson said. “Considering the financial situation before us, we feel it is important that we take action and move ahead with the review to support our community well into the future.”

The review, which can take several months to complete, involves assessing governance, finances, regional cooperation, infrastructure and services. Residents will be consulted in the process.

The process concludes with a vote by residents on the review team’s recommendations with an option for dissolution.

By law, the County of Grande Prairie cannot refuse as the receiving municipality.

“We recognize the vote by Hythe residents on the recommendation of the province’s review team is binding,” County Reeve Leanne Beaupre said. “With any relationship moving forward with Hythe, we want to create a positive environment for the citizens of the County of Grande Prairie as well as Hythe.”