By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on September 30, 2023.
Newly elected president Alberta Municipalities Tyler Gandam spoke to media Friday afternoon as the organization’s annual convention ended in Edmonton.
Gandam called the convention, which drew about 1,200 delegates a great time to reconnect, build some new relationships and continue that networking that they find so valuable.
Â “We also had some really good sessions with good takeaways. There is a lot of people talking about the session they got the opportunity to sit in, learn from, and then that of course carries the conversation on their councils and back to their home communities,” said Gandam.
Â He said some of the key resolutions they discussed were first and foremost, the additional ask of $1 billion to the Local Government Fiscal Framework (LGFF) base funding.
Â “Right now, the province is offering $722 million. Alberta Municipalities has gone through and worked through a formula that’s going to work for hopefully all of our communities across the province, and a big part of that is making sure that we get that base funding mount up to $1.75 billion,” said Gandam.
Â He said they also spoke about affordability and speaking to that infrastructure deficit across the province, they are looking at about a $30 billion deficit for communities across Alberta. Therefore, it is imperative they see some support from the provincial government.
Â “We heard a lot about housing, the shortages and of course the affordability with that as well. We heard from not only Edmonton and Calgary, but some of the smaller communities too who are facing that affordability problem,” said Gandam.
Â He said healthcare was something else they addressed, and they had the opportunity to speak with premier Danielle Smith, as well as 12 ministers who did a panel discussion and took questions from the audience.
Â “They heard a lot of the concerns that our municipalities are facing as well, in healthcare, wait times, EMS, fire departments helping out with EMS and responding to calls as their first response,” said Gandam.
Â He said some of the other resolutions they discussed take into consideration support for bylaws and CPO officers for PTSD and mental health supports, as well as making sure that the municipalities are looked after financially for offering those supports, with first response from their fire departments.
Â “Many of our fire departments across province are paid on-call or volunteer, and it puts a strain on the communities that we have there, their employers, and of course their home life when they’re getting called out to help with that EMS support,” said Gandam.
Â He said they also heard about mental health and addictions, as well as the social needs that municipalities have from across the province.
“I can speak to that, I think fairly well, being the mayor for the city of Wetaskiwin, we’re facing much higher people experiencing homelessness than we ever have before, and I know that that’s not only in which hospital but we’re certainly seeing the effects of mental health and addictions and we’re looking forward to the provinces reaction and response to that too,” said Gandam.
Â He said they also spoke a little bit about justice bail reform and the increasing calls for RCMP or police services across the province. He said they are looking for some help with that as well, not having it just a revolving door through the justice system.
Â “I can appreciate that we’re not going to be able to please our way out of many of the problems that we have, but it is certainly part of the solution that we have to work on moving forward,” said
Â He said lastly, they spoke a little bit about party politics. They had a resolution come up, had a session on that as well, highlighting some of the unintended consequences of moving to a party system with the municipal politics.
Â “The premier spoke about that this morning during her address, saying that they are looking into it to see if there is some merit to it. She has seen that in other regions that are looking at party politics and hoping to get better voter turnouts during our municipal elections, and that was something that they’ll be looking at as well,” said Gandam.
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