I am writing this while sitting in my hotel room in Edmonton, after a long week of meetings at the Alberta Association of Urban Municipalities (AUMA) 2016 Conference.
The AUMA Conference is a great chance for our Council and Administration to network, build stronger relations internally and with other municipalities. There are great sessions and we have a chance to speak one on one with elected leaders from Provincial and Federal Governments. A lot of work gets done during the Conference however some residents don’t know what takes place, so I thought I would share some information about the week long session.
The AUMA is made up of towns, cities and villages throughout Alberta. One function of the AUMA is to lobby the Federal and Provincial Governments on common interests facing its members. One of those interests, which has made news recently, is gas prices within the Province of Alberta. This has been in the news recently with the Mayor of Spruce Grove lobbying the Provincial Government to look into the issue. At the annual AUMA Conference cities like Spruce Grove can put forth a resolution, and if supported, the AUMA will spend the next year studying the issue, developing alternatives and working with the Province to bring about change.
During the conference, we take time to learn about and debate the resolutions put forward by members of the AUMA. There are also educational sessions during the Conference, where experts on certain topics can provide answers to questions put forth by members. At this point many of you are probably losing interest so I’ll let you know my favorite part of the AUMA Conference, it is meetings with Ministers.
Now Ministers are very busy and Slave Lake is just one town in the Province of Alberta so we have to compete with other places to get a Minister’s attention. This year Slave Lake Council and Administration secured meetings with the Minister of Parks and Environment, Shannon Phillips. We talked about the beach, the Provincial Park, the Golf Course and our water license application for a new water line we are building. We also met with the Minister of Forestry and Agriculture, Oneil Carlier, and talked about an Emergency Services Training Center, Caribou Habitat, which has had a big impact on our mills, and even the Softwood Lumber Agreement. Members of Council also met with Ricardo Miranda, the Minister of Tourism, to talk about a new regional tourism group we are setting up, Visitor Information Services and how we need their support to grow that industry in our area. Transportation was a big topic that we chatted with Minister Brian Mason about. In these talks we discussed Airport and Bridge funding, Highway Maintenance, Transportation for our residents to get them to medical appointments, and intersection issues in front of the Sawridge Travel Center and Highway 2 and 88.
As I said before, this Conference isn’t just about meeting with Federal and Provincial leaders, but also connecting with other municipalities around Alberta. This year I had the chance to speak with several municipalities on the topic of Fire and Training. Fire and Training are key issues for our Council to discuss as we are working hard to move ahead on this issue. That isn’t the only topic we touched on with other municipalities. We talked about Sewers with Sylvan Lake, Pine Beetles with Hinton, Health with High Prairie, Intermunicipal Agreements with Valleyview, and Tourism with Edmonton.
Now this may sound like a lot, and believe me it is, but in reality it is the easiest part. The next steps are harder, our meetings with ministers and other elected officials then spawn into many more meetings in Slave Lake and region, hundreds of emails and phone calls will be completed to relay information that was received during the Conference, and some late nights and early mornings in front of a computer.
I always tell people “ideas are easy, plans are hard”. Councillors take on their jobs as elected leaders to make things better than when they started, and conferences like the AUMA Conference and meetings with Ministers are a good way to make that happen.
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