Municipalities have never been taken seriously by the province of Alberta.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs is treated as a junior position, and is often shuffled - ten Ministers have held this portfolio in ten years. Two years into its mandate, the UCP is on its third Minister of Municipal Affairs. The Alberta Party would change this attitude.
The current Minister’s appointment is interim, and split with Alberta Transportation. Jason Kenney has so little regard for municipalities, he can’t even find a permanent, full-time Minister to work with them.
Last weekend, NDP leader Rachel Notley spoke at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference. She promised an amicable relationship based on trust and partnership.
The NDP had their chance. They failed to provide stable, predictable funding, and the big city charters - revoked by the UCP - only applied to Edmonton and Calgary. Smaller but equally important municipalities were left out. The NDP government’s municipal initiatives were often inconsistent half measures. Working with municipalities was - and remains - an afterthought at the Cabinet table.
This needs to change.
Mayors, Reeves, and Councillors are the elected representatives closest to the people they serve. And municipalities are the order of government most willing to find pragmatic strategies to improve communities. The province must work with them to build a great future for all Albertans.
Acting Leader Jacquie Fenske:
Unlike either the UCP or NDP leaders, I’ve been in municipal government. I know what partnership looks like, and what real plans for building our communities look like. For four years the NDP failed, and for the last two, so has the UCP. It’s time for a credible plan.
But I won’t pretend to have one single answer. That’s the thing about municipal governments - they’re all different. An Alberta Party government would empower all our municipalities to better serve their constituents by increasing their economic and revenue generating powers, advocate for the selling of municipal bonds, and adopt a principle of answering every non-funding request with “how can we help?” as opposed to “no, you can’t do that. Step one would be providing stable, predictable funding as a show of good faith.”
The Alberta Party recognizes municipalities are the laboratories of democracy, commerce, and entrepreneurship. Albertans deserve a government that empowers their local governments, and not using them as political props.