Upcoming changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) will soon result in mandatory regional planning mechanisms, thus requiring municipalities to work more closely together regarding service delivery and cost-sharing.
County Council has embraced these changes as complementary to their mandate to improve municipal relationships, planning processes, and local decision-making.
“We need to do our part to forge healthy working relationships with all districts – both within the County and outside of its borders,” commented County Reeve Joe Blakeman. “We may not agree on everything, but we have many goals, challenges and opportunities in common with our neighbours. We also have common resources and processes. By sharing these resources, and by communicating more closely with one another on key issues, we see greater efficiencies, less duplication of effort, and an overall strengthening of our collaborative potential.”
Intermunicipal collaboration offers many benefits, from promoting good land-use and infrastructure planning to creating service delivery and cost-sharing efficiencies. In its ongoing pursuit of these types of opportunities, the County continues to strengthen its ties with neighbouring districts. In late January, the County signed an Emergency Management Mutual Aid Agreement with the Town of Mayerthorpe. In late 2016, the County signed mutual aid agreements with the Town of Onoway and Alexis Nakota Sioux First Nation of Treaty (the First Nation’s first ever such agreement). The County continues to seek similar types of mutual aid agreements with its rural and urban neighbours.
“The Provincial government has sent a clear message that municipalities need to be more resourceful,” continued Reeve Blakeman. “We couldn’t agree more – and we wish to send a similar message back to the Province. In addition to our efforts to establish healthy working relationships with bordering municipalities, we are working with Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to lobby the Provincial government to clean up their own house on pressing municipal matters such as health care in rural Alberta.”
By 2020, all municipalities with common boundaries must adopt Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework (ICF) bylaws and Intermunicipal Development Plans (IDPs). An ICF is a bylaw that highlights and formalizes existing collaborative work between adjacent municipalities and provides a forum for neighbour municipalities to work together. An IDP allows two or more municipalities to address growth and coordinate planning activities on the boundary areas of the municipalities. Lac Ste. Anne County must complete 20 such documents prior to the 2020 deadline – a monumental task considering this greatly exceeds the average number of ICFs and IDPs requested of most municipalities anywhere in Alberta.