By Tim Kalinowski on April 17, 2021.
The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association passed three Requests for Decision (RFD) motions at its Spring Municipal Leaders Caucus on Thursday.
The motions will be forwarded on to AUMA committees for further fleshing out, and will be appended to other AUMA lobbying initiatives toward the provincial government.
The first RFD passed was a motion which asks the provincial government to allocate more funding and resources to help clear existing provincial court backlogs. The motion, which received 96 per cent support from other community leaders from across the province, reads “That the AUMA advocate for the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General to ensure the justice system is properly resourced so that all Albertans have timely and equitable access.”
Discussion on the motion addressed the issues of backlogs, the length of time for prosecutions and repeat offenders constantly being released and re-arrested.
The second RFD passed by the AUMA elected members spoke to the concerns municipalities have with proposed changes to provincial MSI funding toward a new program called Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF). The motion had three parts: the first addressed the time frame the government has proposed to roll out the new program – which would likely be before the next provincial election. The RFD called for the province to implement it after that election in the start of the fiscal year 2023-2024 instead. The second part of the motion stated the AUMA was seeking the “removal of the 50 per cent limitation in the revenue index factor calculation so that annual changes in LGFF funding is equivalent to annual changes in the government of Alberta’s revenue.” This would get rid of a measure in the new LGFF which would essentially put a hard cap on funding instead of an inflationary model.
And the final part of the motion, adopted as a friendly amendment during the Spring Municipal Leaders Caucus, would have baseline funding from the province restored.
The RFD eventually passed with 85 per cent support.
The last RFD passed during Thursday’s meeting asked the provincial government to amend the Municipal Government Act to allow municipalities to impose a Special Tax as required to help pay for local policing costs. Rural communities in particular have seen a huge escalation in local policing costs the past few years as the Kenney government has shifted more of the burden for paying for those services onto local municipalities.
The motion passed by a more slender, but still decisive, margin of 69 per cent with most smaller communities in attendance strongly in support.
Earlier in the day Opposition Leader Rachel Notley addressed delegates in an election-style speech which strongly criticized the Kenney government’s COVID response, its poorly received economic plan among municipalities, and stated an NDP government would work in partnership with municipalities to ensure their essential fiscal needs are met.
Notley said she would praise the Kenney government’s capital infrastructure stimulus plan if it weren’t for the fact, in her words, “what the right hand giveth, the (left) hand also taketh away.”
“This week the government drew their Bill 56, dismantling the certainty within municipal funding we worked so hard to cement within legislation for your communities and their stability,” she said.
The three-day conference concluded Friday with a speech from Premier Jason Kenney, and two dialogue sessions with various UCP cabinet ministers.