Lacombe joins mid-sized cities in call for equitable funding

Mayors and CAOs of 22 towns and cities with populations above 15,000 – representing around one million Albertans – gathered in Cochrane Jan. 29-31, 2019, for their bi-annual caucus meeting. City of Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey is pictured in the back row, fifth from the right. Photo supplied

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The City of Lacombe has officially joined fellow mid-sized cities in calling on the provincial government to develop an equitable framework to better suit the needs of all Albertans.

Earlier this week – Jan. 29-31 – Mayor Grant Creasey and Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Matthew Goudy were in attendance at the 2019 Mid-Sized Cities Mayors’ and CAOs’ Caucus meeting in Cochrane, Alta. A bi-annual meeting for the mayors and CAOs of 22 cities with populations above 15,000 – representing about one million Albertans – this particular meeting’s top priority was to press the province to commit to improving municipal funding and sustainability.

“This is certainly not a new item. It’s something we’ve been working on for some time, basically wanting similar treatment already accomplished with Edmonton and Calgary,” said Creasey. “We just want a more stable funding model that clearly outlines what communities are going to receive on an ongoing annual basis that assists us in providing the infrastructure that all communities need.”

In 2018, the City of Edmonton and City of Calgary, with the Government of Alberta, developed city charters which secured each municipality’s funding profile. Mid-sized cities in the province are looking for something similar.

Although there was discussion on the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) and reworking it over the next few years, the general hope of mid-sized cities officials had been that something would already been in place at this point, especially with changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) which required municipalities to move towards multi-year budgets.

“It’s not reasonable for a government to expect us to supply multi-year budgets but not have any idea about multi-year infrastructure (funding),” said Creasey.

“It seems unfortunate to me that an equitable framework could not have been accomplished by this government in a time frame that would’ve been more palatable for all of us. We’ve been working on this for quite some time and we just want to see it accomplished so we can all move on.”

As a whole the caucus, which formed over a decade ago, is calling on leaders to “bridge the boundaries between all levels of government to attract investment and trade, to diversify our economy and to commit to legislated, predictable and stable funding for all Alberta communities,” as per a city release issued Friday.

The call was given first hand to all four provincial party leaders, including the current premier and NDP Leader Rachel Notley, United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel and Liberal Leader David Khan.

“It was certainly interesting and informative to listen to all four leaders explain their platform for the pending provincial election,” he said. “That they all chose to show up in Cochrane on relatively short notice speaks highly towards them and they all promised to work collaboratively with us in the future.”