Civic matters were among the topics getting a great deal of attention at the all candidates forum on April 29, PC candidate Richard Starke pointed to his time on Lloydminster city council as a strong point in his candidacy.
“Municipal government is certainly the level of government that is closest to us Albertans and having served two terms on city council in Lloydminster, I’m certainly familiar with the challenges of providing civil services,” he said. “With specific regard to municipal funding, our government has been involved in providing Municipal Sustainability Initiatives for a number of years.”
Starke said MLAs have to have strong working partnerships with the municipal councils in their constituencies and he believes he has done that “for the most part” during his tenure in that capacity.
NDP candidate Saba Mossagizi said that it is her party’s position to do consultations with communities on municipal issues instead of what she calls the “top-down” method she accused the PCs of.
“When I keep saying we would need consultation, it is really important to us that we speak to people on a ground level rather than speaking from Edmonton for other municipalities, which unfortunately is what we’ve been seeing over the last few years here,” she said.
Danny Hozack, of the Wildrose Party, said they have a municipal sustainability plan outlined in their proposal that has $1.6 billion as a “direct municipal sustainability initiative transfer to municipalities.” He says the plan has a dedicated wastewater envelope of $110 million and the rest, roughly $300 million, would go into a regional infrastructure fund.
“With this amount of funding, we can guarantee that every municipality in Alberta will do much better under the Wildrose plan,” Hozack said.
When the topic of enhancing ambulance service came up, Starke said it’s been a big concern for a number of years and that he was currently working on making the enhancements happen. He said there would be a need to talk to both Prairie North Health Region and Alberta Health Services to provide funds necessary for moving the issue forward.
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“That was a process that actually began a few months ago, it’s still very high on my list of priorities and I certainly hope to be able to complete that change so all of Lloydminster will have advanced life support ambulance services.”
Mossagizi’s proposed approach was similar, indicating a strong need for cross-border cooperation.
“I would say that probably has a lot to do with developing a better relationship with Saskatchewan and help tie our health-care system with theirs in a way, in order to make those kinds of situation easier.”
Hozack admitted that he hadn’t considered the topic yet, but still felt confident his party could offer a solution, saying humorously, “I have to tell you, I haven’t given that any thought, but my guess is that if we don’t raise your taxes we’ll have a better chance at doing it.”