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Alberta Urban Municipalities Association

I just spent a few days at a conference for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA). This networking and educational event is mandatory for Council. I also found it tremendously helpful.

Immediately after posting this, I am turning off my computer and going on a week long vacation. So apologies if I don’t respond to any comments.

Here were the focuses of the conference:

 

Advocacy

A big role of AUMA is advocacy to the provincial and federal governments on behalf of Alberta Municipalities. The conference is an important part of this work.

We got to vote on the lobbying priorities of AUMA. This year, Grande Prairie sponsored four resolutions that passed. Because of them, AUMA will be asking the province to: involve municipalities in discussion about the future of provincial infrastructure spending, form a provincial/municipal working group to address the opioid crises, allow housing authorities (such as the Grande Spirit Foundation) to borrow money from the Alberta Capital Authority, and expand mandatory helmet requirements for youth riding scooters and skateboards.

We also voted on board members for AUMA. Mayor Given was elected. I am excited that he will be able to have greater input into AUMA policy and expanded insight into what is happening around the province. I know this will be a benefit to our City.

 

Networking

Networking is a big part of the conference. 

I had conversations with four provincial ministers and many MLAs. I got to share about some of the needs of Grande Prairie (I focused on Highway 40 and our needs surrounding addiction and housing).

I got to talk to experienced Councillors and Mayors from across the province. I got to hear about many of their successes and great idea. I also got to hear about their biggest challenges. Most importantly, I got to share Grande Prairie’s opportunities and challenges to ask for ideas and input. The best conversation was with the Mayor Morishita from Brooks who is the current AUMA president- he had a broad perspective of what is happening across the province.

I spent a lot of time talking to private industry experts. These included engineers, planners, lawyers, and experts on federal lobbying. I had the opportunity to informally pick their brains for free advice and insights.

Finally, our Council had an informal get together with those of Wembley, Sexsmith, and Beaverlodge along with a few County Councillors in attendance. Meeting each other informally will set us up well to begin working together.

 

 

Educational Opportunities

Finally, this conference allowed me to go to a number of seminars run by other elected officials, federal civil servants, and private industry experts. The best seminars I went to and some key lessons:

Social media: the best discussion was about how elected officials should use their platforms during an emergency (mostly to direct people to the official sources of information)

Public engagement: we were taught about engagement policies the province is requiring municipalities to form. We also talked about different levels of engagement and when each are appropriate.

Municipal Government Act amendments: a couple of lawyers walked us through the biggest changes the province is making to legislation governing municipalities. I especially appreciated getting a more detailed explanation of the Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks we are being required to negotiate with the County (and may sign with other regional municipalities)

Federal funding: we learned about the Canada Infrastructure Bank. This will see $180billion put into infrastructure over 12 years, $113 billion of which will be available to municipalities. We were given details on what projects will be eligible and how to access the funding. 

RCMP: we got a meeting with the senior leadership of the RCMP “K” division to talk about local priorities and initiatives.

Asset management: we talked about the biggest mistakes Councils make when managing assets. The most interesting conversation topic to me was about what projects to fund through reserves, which to fund through annual taxes, and which to fund through debt.

I have a notebook full of ideas, and a wallet full of business cards. I’m excited to start digging into these new resources to shape and inform my work on Council.

Thanks for reading;

-Dylan