Working relationship with new minister vital
Tuesday, Jan 31, 2017 06:00 am
Alberta municipalities are hoping to develop a good working relationship with the new minister of Municipal Affairs in short order in able to deal effectively with many challenges facing rural communities, says Al Kemmere.
“The role of the minister is to pick up where the other minister left off,” said Kemmere, the president of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAAMDC).
“The whole municipal sustainability funding discussion is coming forward and the legislation that that rides under right now expires in March, so we are looking forward to that.
“There is some more work on that Municipal Government Act. We need to watch the regulations come through and work with the minister if we have concerns with that.”
Shaye Anderson was appointed as minister of Municipal Affairs in a recent cabinet shuffle. He replaces outgoing minister Danielle Larivee.
Municipal Affairs is the principal government ministry dealing with urban and rural municipalities, including Mountain View County.
There are several other issues and projects the AAMDC will be working on in conjunction with the minister in the coming months.
“There is the usual business,” said Kemmere, who is also the Mountain View County councillor for Division 7. “The role of the ministry in the long-term sustainability and viability of municipalities is always a big discussion.
“There are going to be some challenges coming forward for some of the smaller communities with some of the new expectations that are under the Municipal Government Act that are going to have to be worked through. That could make it challenging for some of the smaller towns.”
Asked what sort of challenges he has in mind, he replied, “I’ll give you an example. They have to come forward with municipal development plans. A lot of towns with populations under 3,500 didn’t have municipal development plans.
“And they also have to do inter-municipal development plans, which are growth agreements between the counties and the towns.”
The AAMDC represents 69 rural municipalities. It advocates for those municipalities with the provincial government.
Kemmere says he has spoken to Shaye Anderson several times in the past.
“We’ve had some great conversations,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with him. I do get a little bit frustrated at times with the revolving door of the ministry.
“It feels like you get to have a minister that you’ve really built a good understanding with and then they get rotated into another ministry.
“Minister Larivee was a great minister to work with and we were making some good headway, and I have no doubt that we will continue that one with Shaye.”
Meanwhile, the 269-member Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) is also hopeful that a new workable relationship with Minister Anderson can be forged quickly, said association president Lisa Holmes.
“We have extended an invitation for him to join our Board of Directors meeting next week and look forward to discussing the opportunities for municipalities and the province to work together,” Holmes said in a press release.
“AUMA would like to work with Minister Anderson to see further movement on topics such as municipal sustainability and viability, joint partnerships between municipalities and the province, and ensuring adequate municipal funding that will provide stability and predictability for Alberta’s communities.
“We are hopeful that in spite of these Cabinet changes we can still continue with the progress we have made so far. We look forward to working closely with Minister Anderson to further the municipal agenda.”
In related news, the Wildrose Opposition has expressed concern about the former Human Services minister Irfan Sabir being shuffled to the new Community and Social Services ministry.
“While it’s positive to see the government finally addressing the dysfunction in the human services department, I’m extremely disappointed to see Mr. Sabir continuing in a cabinet role,” Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said in a release.
“This NDP government still isn’t listening to Albertans who clearly wanted to see this minister removed from cabinet entirely.
“If we aren’t taking care of our children, our most vulnerable, we’re nowhere. While I have serious doubts about Mr. Sabir’s abilities to make positive changes, I hope for nothing more than improvements to our child intervention system through the new minister and will do all I can to help in this effort.”