Committee weighing merits of lobbyist

Three Central Alberta municipalities are considering hiring someone to bend the ear of the provincial government about the need for a new hospital to replace one that is old and beyond its capacity.

Three Central Alberta municipalities are considering hiring someone to bend the ear of the provincial government about the need for a new hospital to replace one that is old and beyond its capacity.

But since the call went out last month for lobbying services, representatives from the Rocky Mountain House, Caroline, Clearwater County Hospital Committee say the chance of it going ahead is unlikely.

Rocky Mayor Fred Nash said they wanted to explore what a consultant or lobbyist could do in the same vein as the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC).

“We are just putting pressure on the provincial government,” said Nash. “We work well with them and our MLA (Wildrose’s Joe Anglin, Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre). “They know what our issue is. We are still looking for results and we are still entertaining all avenues.”

Within the next two weeks, the committee will debate the merits of hiring a lobbyist before deciding its next move. Nash said he doesn’t think it will go ahead because they already have the attention of the government.

“We’ll put everything on the table and make our best choice,” said Nash. “With the good relationship with the provincial government, I am not so sure it is necessary to hire one. Majority rules.”

Clearwater County Reeve Pat Alexander agreed it is unlikely they will hire someone. The three municipalities would likely share the cost of hiring a consultant. They have received a handful of applications.

Alexander said hiring a lobbyist is just one option the committee is considering at this time.

“It’s an ongoing thing,” said Alexander. “It’s to carry the message to different departments within the province government dealing with a new hospital. Whether we go ahead with it, I am not sure. We have put requests for proposals and have had some discussion about it.”

Alexander said the existing Rocky Mountain House Health Centre is often at or beyond capacity and has structure issues.

Nash said he knows this spring’s flood in Southern Alberta takes precedence over a lot of things in the province but the need for a new hospital remains high.

He said a bright spot is the 40-new supportive living spaces that were announced for Rocky Mountain House in June. They will take off some of the pressure of the hospital when they are ready in a couple years.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com