This version of Bonnyville town council will wait until a new group is elected in the fall to decide whether to stay in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), a federal lobby group that advocates for cities and towns.
The discussion at last Tuesday’s council meeting came after the decision of the County of St. Paul to leave FCM and the M.D. of Bonnyville’s push for a similar coalition of Western Canadian municipalities.
Council members weighed the pros and cons of hearing what issues are being presented at the national stage and leveraging grants and funding for the area, against the detractors of feeling muzzled and not seeing issues that hurt small towns and cities, especially in Alberta.
Mayor Gene Sobolewski said on The Morning After that previous attempts to lobby for the oil and gas sector, like in 2019 when the M.D. was a member, quickly fell on deaf ears.
“Basically, it was Alberta’s voice and some of Saskatchewan and British Columbia. But, again, when we take a look at the issue, did it make it off the executive board into something that they were actually working on? The answer was no,” said Sobolewski.
Bonnyville council did pay for a membership in 2021 that cost $1600, but in councillor Ray Prevost’s motion, members will not go to the annual convention if it is put on in Montreal.
County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham was one of the rural representatives from the Rural Municipalities of Alberta to FCM, and it was his frustration that led to this topic at the Bonnyville Town Hall.
Bonnyville is a member of the Alberta Urban Municipalities of Alberta and Rural Municipalities of Alberta. These could be avenues the next town council explores, and could provide for more discussion on issues relevant to the town and the province.
“It’s still very important to hear some of the issues as they come up. And say for example, with the restaurant issue, I was at a barefoot session at RMA and several Reeves were posing the question with regard to opening and making things more fair. And the minister just shut it down. But at least you’re able to hear those questions and see that there is advocacy that’s going on.
“Unless we’re a metropolitan city of a million-plus, our voice is basically irrelevant.”