From March 11 to 13, Lloydminster Mayor Rob Saunders attended the Alberta Mayors’ Spring Caucus Meetings in Edmonton.
The meetings gave mayors in the province a chance to speak with their MLAs ahead of the budget coming out to lay out their concerns.
“It’s an opportunity to have a face-to-face with the people that represent their municipalities,” Saunders said. “They get to hear firsthand what our hopes are, what our projects are, some input into what we’d like to see in the budgets that are coming up, and, of course, we know that these are tough budgets with the economic climate today.”
Mayors were also treated to presentations from ministers, who gave overviews of their portfolios, including Municipal Affairs Minister Diana McQueen.
“The honourable Diana McQueen is a former mayor of Drayton Valley and also a council member, so she knows what municipalities have to deal with on a regular basis. She’s been a great ally for municipalities in the province of Alberta,” Saunders said. “And each of the represented ministries were giving presentations on what they’re hearing from municipalities.”
There were three main topics that the mayors brought to the MLAs’ attention. These were partnership arrangements with municipalities, funding for infrastructure and input on an updated Municipal Government Act.
See “Mayors,” Page 20
“We want active participation with the province,” Saunders said. “In any partnership there has to be two-way communication, so were asking to enhance the partnership, enhance the communication and just be real working partners in the development of our province.”
Saunders says infrastructure is necessary to facilitate growth. He also says predictable provincial funding for infrastructure projects helps municipalities budget and plan for the future.
“We’re all experiencing growth right now and we’re a little behind the 8-ball in some of the infrastructure that’s required to support the existing growth,” he said.
The current Municipal Government Act outlines the framework in which Alberta municipalities operate. It is currently under review and Saunders says that the mayors want to have a say in how the Act is altered.
“The opportunity (is there) for municipalities to provide input into proposed changes,” Saunders said. “And it’s the whole province, so the rural municipalities and the urban municipalities are providing input for recommended changes and updates and the government is listening.”
Saunders says the goal of the government is to have the updated Act ready by the end of 2016.