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Mayors seek sustainable, reliable funding

Mayors and CAOs from across Alberta collaborate in St. Albert Friday

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Saturday, Apr 05, 2014 06:00 am

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Officials from the mid-sized cities of Alberta agree: they’d like more reliable, sustainable funding from other levels of government.

Representatives from 21 mid-sized municipalities from around Alberta were in St. Albert Friday to discuss common areas of concern for mid-sized cities as part of the biannual mid-sized cities caucus meeting.

For the purpose of the meeting, mid-size city was a municipality with an urban population greater than 15,000 or a place officially designated as a city but excluding Edmonton and Calgary.

Joining the CAOs and mayors was the associate minister for municipal affairs, Greg Weadick, MLA for Lethbridge West.

“It’s been great. Excellent dialogue and discussion. Lots of different viewpoints. Because we have the province completely covered from north to south, east to west, from rural to urban, it really gives you a good picture of what’s happening across the province and it was amazing some of the common themes that came out,” Weadick said when interviewed during the lunch break.

Those common themes included ensuring adequate funding for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) programming across the province, and sustainable funding for the municipalities in general.

Weadick said he heard concerns about rail lines and knowledge of what’s being hauled through the communities, notes echoed by Bill Robertson, mayor of Okotoks. “It’s for safety for our emergency personnel and ultimately the safety of our citizens,” Robertson said.

Robertson noted there are concerns about the timeliness with which municipalities get requested additional RCMP officers.

Bill Elliot, mayor of Wetaskiwin, said some of the discussion centred around RCMP funding and cost equality between urban municipalities and counties.

Robertson, Elliot and Bill Kesanko, an alderman for Spruce Grove, all noted the need for reliable and sustainable funding.

“What came out more and more is we just need reliable, sustainable funding,” Elliot said.

Weadick and Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes were present from the province, and the elected officials said the minister assured them he’s heard what they’re saying. “That’s positive,” Kesanko said.

Craig Spearman, mayor of Lethbridge, extolled the virtues of the mid-sized cities caucus.

“I think when we’re united it’s harder for the provincial government to ignore us,” Spearman said.

Spearman said during the morning session he’d heard a lot of respect for the taxpayer – they’d like more reliable funding for cities, but not at the cost of more taxes.

“So far we’re working well collaboratively and there hasn’t been a lot of strong disagreement,” he said.

St. Albert’s Nolan Crouse noted the event, which kicked off with a dinner on Thursday night and then Friday’s sessions, had 100 per cent attendance.

“So we had 21 municipalities which was remarkable,” he said, noting the presence of provincial cabinet members is “a signal we make a difference.”


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