Rocky View County (RVC) council has directed administration to prepare a motion to provide some sort of funding toward the Kathyrn Irricana Beiseker Acme (KIBA) Seed Cleaning Plant cooperative to help pay for necessary electrical upgrades to the plant by council’s July 18 meeting.
Division 5 Coun. Greg Boehlke previously brought forward the original motion to council from the Public Presentation Committee (PPC) meeting on April 19, and he put forth the proposed KIBA funding motion for consideration during the May 9 council meeting.
Boehlke argued during the PPC meeting the KIBA cooperative provides important seeding services to local farmers and environmental services to the County, yet had not received any direct municipal funding apart from a small grant during its original founding in 1956.
The cooperative requested $65,000 to help with some much-needed electrical upgrades after recent instability in the local Beiseker power grid nearly led to potential damage to their machines and heightened risk of fire danger at the plant.
Not all on council were in support of providing any form of funding to KIBA, which, although a cooperative comprising many local farmers, still runs as a private business enterprise.
Division 2 Coun. Don Kochan asked administration if such support was appropriate from a County perspective.
RVC director of operations Byron Riemann said that was for council to decide, but recognized why Coun. Boehlke found it important to advance a motion to support KIBA with some form of grant. The co-op helps prevent invasive species and certain types of fungal crop diseases from establishing themselves in local agricultural fields through their seed cleaning processes.
“There is a greater good to the services they provide to the region through what they offer at that plant,” Riemann stated. “So, I think that’s why there was an interest from PPC to move this into a council realm.”
Kochan acknowledged the environmental services KIBA contributes to the region, but still felt its membership should fully pay for the upgrades without the municipality’s support.
“I know it’s a good cause,” he stated, “but I do think they have enough membership to look after their needs. There are also all sorts of government grants that are available for this type of upgrade requirement.
“I don’t think Rocky View should get into the habit of funding private businesses of this nature.”
However, others on council did not agree with Kochan. In the end, Boehlke’s motion to consider some sort of financial support to help with KIBA’s electrical upgrades, which is to come back to council no later than July 18, passed by a vote of 6-1.