Western Canadian Municipal Associations Meet in Edmonton
September 3, 2019 - The leaders of the municipal associations of Western Canada's three prairie provinces met in Edmonton on Friday to discuss areas of common concern.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) hosted the annual meeting comprised of elected officials and staff from the AUMA and RMA, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM), the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association (SUMA), and the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM).
Priority discussion items issues included the challenges that municipalities have in accessing federal infrastructure funding, the impacts of the assentation of Bill C-69, asset management, disaster mitigation, and additional federal policy and budget commitments.
On federal infrastructure funding, the associations agreed that challenges related to accessing funding through the federal Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program are significantly impacting municipalities’ abilities to undertake infrastructure projects. Further, engaging municipal associations is essential to ensure that funding allocations do not have unnecessary limitations.
"Municipalities are responsible for extensive infrastructure projects and demand a fair share of federal funding through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program,” stated Ralph Groening, President of AMM.
"Our provincial governments are facing large deficits, we realize that," added Al Kemmere, President of RMA. "Investing in infrastructure is essential to keep our economy running and support continued investment."
The associations also discussed asset management and how it supports effective and efficient planning for municipalities though application into the budgeting process. On this item, Ray Orb, SARM President, emphasized, “Communicating the benefits of asset management will help municipal councils understand the state of their infrastructure, and to plan accordingly for necessary investment. This also demonstrates what the infrastructure deficit is, so we can address this appropriately. Funding for roads and bridges is limited, and better planning for municipal infrastructure includes sound practices on asset management.”
Other topics the associations discussed included responsible resources development, recycling and intermunicipal collaboration.
AUMA President Barry Morishita stated, “Responsible resource development is essential for the future of all municipalities. This meeting today demonstrates AUMA's ongoing commitment to work with our members and other municipal associations to move forward with a Resource Communities of Canada Coalition (RCCC). There is a need to coordinate our Canadian municipal voice to ensure municipal perspectives are being heard on issues impacting resource development.”
“Saskatchewan hometowns deliver services that their residents rely on daily, from clean drinking water to waste management,” said SUMA President Gordon Barnhart. “Our cities, towns, villages, and northern municipalities need to know funding will be there to help our hometowns maintain and improve the infrastructure that enhances the quality of life in Saskatchewan.”
Discussion amongst this group of leaders is essential to understand issues being experienced across the prairie provinces. “We value this opportunity to connect with our colleagues and have frank discussions about issues impacting municipalities across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba,” said Al Kemmere, RMA President. Added AUMA President Barry Morishita, “Municipalities on the prairies share many similar challenges. We’re stronger when we’re working and partnering together.”
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