St. Albert Coun. Cathy Heron was elected vice-president of cities up to 500,000 residents during the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s annual convention last week in Calgary.
She will represent the 18 cities in Alberta that are home to populations of up to 500,000, such as Cold Lake, Medicine Hat and St. Albert.
Heron acknowledged that the position will require a lot of work, but regards it as a great learning opportunity.
Heron is hoping that she and the two other directors can travel to each of these municipalities to gain a better understanding of their individual challenges, as well as potentially bring back best practices.
“It’s going to be very good for myself and the city I’m thinking,” she said.
“If there is a better way of doing it, I’ll be able to bring that back because I’ll be able to talk to cities our size.”
Through her position she hopes to raise public awareness of the role and challenges of local government, work closely with the new NDP government and encourage municipalities to get more actively involved in the AUMA by looking into the possibility of creating more working groups and committees.
But her biggest priority will be ensuring that changes to the Municipal Government Act are up to snuff for St. Albert and other mid-size municipalities.
It was announced on Friday by Municipal Affairs Minister Deron Bilous that the MGA review would be tabled in spring and approved before the next municipal election.
During his speech, Bilous also emphasized the need for collaboration between municipalities by announcing that municipalities that worked together would have an easier time accessing funds.
“That message means that collaboration and partnerships are the most important things to the NDP government when it comes to cities and I heard that very loud and clear,” said Heron, who plans to use her experience on the Capital Region Board to encourage other municipalities to create synergies.
Earlier this month it was announced that Morinville Mayor Lisa Holmes was acclaimed president of the AUMA.