New Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act new play­book for lo­cal gov­ern­ments

The Drumheller Mail - - AROUND TOWN - Pa­trick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

Newly elected coun­cils in ci­ties, town, vil­lages, and coun­ties have a new play­book to use as they be­gin serv­ing their com­mu­nity.

The Al­berta Gov­ern­ment un­der­took in 2014 to rewrite the Mu­nic­i­pal Gov­ern­ment Act. This is the leg­is­la­tion that sets out how lo­cal gov­ern­ments func­tion and pro­vides ser­vices to the res­i­dents of their com­mu­ni­ties. Over the three years, the gov­ern­ment re­drafted the sec­ond largest piece of leg­is­la­tion in Al­berta.

“The last time the laws that guide mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties were ex­ten­sively up­dated was in 1995. At that time, fewer than one in 10 Cana­di­ans had a cell phone and the Bal­ti­more Stal­lions won the Grey Cup,” said Shaye An­der­son, Min­is­ter of Mu­nic­i­pal Af­fairs in a press re­lease.

“A lot has changed since then, in­clud­ing the needs of our com­mu­ni­ties. I am proud of the work we’ve done with lo­cal gov­ern­ments and stake­hold­ers to mod­ern­ize the MGA. This up­dated piece of leg­is­la­tion pro­vides mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties the tools and re­sources they need to build strong com­mu­ni­ties and make lives bet­ter for Al­ber­tans.”

Drumheller CAO Dar­ryl Dro­homer­ski says while there are some sub­stan­tial changes, Drumheller is ahead of the curve on many of these new ini­tia­tives.

“A lot of these things aren’t any more work for us be­cause we have been do­ing these things al­ready,” said Dro­homer­ski. “We are al­ready lead­ing the with many of these changes that have been pro­posed.

We have im­ple­mented these changes be­cause we rec­og­nize it is good gov­ern­ment and good trans­parency.”

Some of these in­clude coun­cil hav­ing a three-year cap­i­tal plans with great ac­cess for the pub­lic to see.

Al­ready the town prac­tices this. An­other is cre­at­ing a mu­nic­i­pal sus­tain­abil­ity plan, some­thing the town has com­pleted years ago.

One of the new items is com­plet­ing an in­ter­mu­nic­i­pal col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment. This means work­ing with neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties on how to de­liver ser­vices bet­ter with col­lab­o­ra­tion in mind.

“The idea is about get­ting groups talk­ing about how there is po­ten­tial to do bet­ter ser­vice shar­ing or other agree­ments,” he said. “A good ex­am­ple I can think of us do­ing that is the Drumheller and Dis­trict Solid Waste As­so­ci­a­tion. That is an ex­am­ple of a suc­cess to come from an in­ter­mu­nic­i­pal col­lab­o­ra­tion agree­ment.”

An­other change in the Act spec­i­fies coun­cil­lor train­ing, in­clud­ing the re­quire­ment that coun­cil­lors take gov­er­nance train­ing so they are up to speed on their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. This is also some­thing that Drumheller has long prac­ticed. The leg­is­la­tion also bet­ter de­fines roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of staff.

The Act also introduces the re­quire­ment of a Code of Con­duct.

“There is more em­pha­sis on ac­count­abil­ity and un­der­stat­ing what be­ing a coun­cil­lor means,” said Dro­homer­ski.

One change that may lead to more ac­count­abil­ity is how meet­ings will be con­ducted.

Now, for ex­am­ple, rather than just list­ing an in cam­era ses­sion, coun­cil agen­das will have to iden­tify the topic be­ing dis­cussed in pri­vate.

“It is about open­ness, ac­count­abil­ity, and trans­parency for the pub­lic. I think that is a good mea­sure,” said Dro­homer­ski.

An­other change to open up trans­parency is there are de­fined open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween staff and elected of­fi­cials. Now cor­re­spon­dence be­tween staff and elected mem­bers will no longer be one on one, but the CAO will re­ply to the en­tire coun­cil.

“Ev­ery­one will have the same level of in­for­ma­tion,” said Dro­homer­ski.

Pro­vi­sions of the act will come into force in phases, with some hap­pen­ing im­me­di­ately and oth­ers be­com­ing ef­fec­tive on Jan­uary, 1, 2018 and in April 2018, states a re­lease.

Dar­ryl Dro­homer­ski… Drumheller CAO

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