Alberta rural municipalities are concerned about new legislation meant to ensure co-operation with their urban communities.
Under the province’s updated Municipal Government Act, counties and municipal districts must create Intermunicipal Collaboration Frameworks with their urban partners. The agreements must be done within two years or an arbiter could be called in.
Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties president Al Kemmere said they are worried too much is being put on municipalities’ plates with too little time to meet the government’s expectations.
“We’re concerned with the time it’s going to take to do these,” said Kemmere, who is a councillor with Mountain View County.
“I’ll use Red Deer County as an example. They have to come up with 16 different agreements within a two-year time period.”
Mountain View County will have to do 10 agreements and other rural municipalities are looking at around a dozen or more.
“Two years to get these done is just not reasonable,” he said.
The association has already raised the issue with the provincial government and will continue to raise it before the new Municipal Government Act is passed later this year.
“We’re lobbying for more flexible timelines,” he said.
The association representing rural municipalities does not have a problem with the goal of improving collaboration. However, the cost, time and staffing required to meet that goal will be too much for some municipalities.
“The big concern we have right now is we may be setting ourselves up to fail,” said Kemmere.
“We’ve got to make sure we look after the roads and everything else that’s important and that the community needs and still come up with these agreements.
“It’s going to be a challenge.”
Meeting the government’s requirements could mean some rural municipalities will need to hire extra staff.
On top of that, municipal elections are planned for October, which means many councils may have a number of newcomers, who will take time to get up to speed on the issues.