Minister of Municipal Affairs, Deron Bilous, was in Cold Lake for the Mid-Size Mayor’s Caucus, on Friday, September 18th, 2015, where he hinted changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) will be announced at the AUMA meetings in Calgary this week. The act is long overdue for updating and has been under review for since 2014 when session were held from February to April to gain insight in what municipalities would like to see improve in the act.
Minister Bilous says he makes a point of travelling Alberta and meeting with as many elected officials as possible. “I think it’s really important for me, as Minister of Municipal Affairs, to get out and meet with as many elected officials as often as possible. I know I’ll be seeing most of them, if not all of them next week at the AUMA in Calgary. I think it’s important to get out and speak with them and listen to what their issues and concerns are.”
Minister Bilous was joined by Alberta’s Minister of Finance, Joe Ceci, where both men address the group of 22 mayors who had come to Cold Lake from all over the province. Minister Bilous says the pair spoke of the government’s budget framework. Bilous spoke of the renewed partnership that he and Premiere Notley are leading with municipal officials, “we heard loud and clear, from years of being the opposition, they want to be treated as equals. Given a level of anatomy to be able to do the jobs they are elected to do.”
“The 22 mayors [at the caucus] represent over 900,000 people,” Minister Bilous explains the importance of him attending the caucus, “there are growing pressures and demands on our mid-sized cities. They’re positions or concerns are different somewhat from Edmonton and Calgary, the two largest cities. So I think it’s important to get their perspective. It’s one thing to invite the stakeholders to my office, it’s another to get out and see the communities in which they live.”
The Minister also touched on the MGA but could not release too much information, as he will be making official announcements at the AUMA conference. “Next Friday, I will be laying out the timelines for the MGA, in detail, as well as the direction that we will be going.”
During the review process, Minister Bilous toured many municipalities across the province and says each were different with their concerns, “some of what [the municipalities] are bringing up are more amending administrative things, making it a little more modern. The last time it was updated was 1995. The face of Alberta has really changed significantly, since then over a million people have moved to Alberta, and we’re forecasting another million in the next ten years.”
The continued population growth is a big factor in the changes to the MGA, says Minister Bilous, “we want to make sure municipalities have the tools and services that the people can depend on. Local government really is the closest thing to our citizens and they’re responsible for a number of things from infrastructure to different programs and services.”
“Depending on which municipality you ask, they’ll have a different ask for the MGA,” explains the Minister, “but overall, from what I’ve heard through consultations and focus groups and submissions is, changing the relationships to more of a partnership.”