Government report makes recommendations that would affect municipal funding
On September 3, the Government of Alberta released the MacKinnon Report, which explores Alberta’s provincial government spending. The report makes 26 recommendations to address government spending, one of which is specifically related to municipalities. Recommendation 15 calls on the Government of Alberta to examine the legislative framework for capital funding to municipalities with the goals of:
aligning funding to provincial goals and priorities and fiscal capacity, while further considering funding formulas that require municipalities to share more in the costs of major projects;
adjusting its allocation formulas for grants to municipalities in line with the policy of bringing Alberta’s provincial and municipal per capita capital stock in line with the comparator provinces;
establishing accountability mechanisms and performance measures to monitor the delivery of municipal programs and services and value for money spent, so citizens have the ability to constructively evaluate their local government and their use of tax dollars; and
making better use of federal infrastructure funding, through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP), as a means of more effectively managing the costs of the Capital Plan.
The report notes that the Government of Alberta funds $440 per capita in municipal grants, 20% higher than the national average. RMA has identified concerns regarding the use of per capita metrics as they do not capture the challenges of providing services and maintaining infrastructure in rural areas with low population density. RMA remains committed to working with the provincial government to reach a legislated agreement for municipal funding.
The Government of Alberta may not implement all 26 recommendations. RMA will monitor and keep members apprised of the government response to the recommendations, as well as any changes to municipal infrastructure funding upon the release of the provincial budget in October 2019.
ISED Canada is seeking input on connectivity grants as well as information on rural internet speeds
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is seeking input on the Universal Broadband Fund(UBF). The UBF is being developed as part of the Government of Canada’s Connectivity Strategy, which seeks to provide all Canadians with access to highspeed internet (50 Mbps download and 10 Mbps upload) by 2030. The UBF is being designed to support broadband access in rural and remote areas, which are areas of importance for RMA members.
ISED is seeking feedback from multiple stakeholders, including municipalities. Those interested in participating can:
Four board seats up for election at the RMA Fall 2019 Convention
Four of the seven seats on the RMA Board of Directors will be up for election at the Fall 2019 Convention and will serve a two-year term (2019-2021):
Director for District 2 – Central
Director for District 3 – Pembina River
Director for District 5 – Edmonton East
In the event that a current RMA board member from Districts 1 or 4 chooses to run and is successfully elected as Vice President, that District Director position will become available for the remaining one-year period of the two-year term. That district election would take place at the same time as the other district elections already scheduled at the Fall 2019 Convention.
Section E of the association bylaws identifies eligibility requirements for members of the Board of Directors, including that the individual must be a duly elected official for a full RMA member municipality. For the position of district directors, individuals must represent a municipality that is within the district that is up for election. Click here to determine which municipalities are located in each district.
Board Member Commitment
The duties of an RMA board member are significant and require commitment to the association. There is considerable time required for meetings and committee preparation, attendance, and travel. RMA encourages members interested in pursuing a RMA board seat to contact a current board member to gain a full understanding of the responsibility and commitment required.
The overall role of RMA board members is to represent and advocate the broad collective municipal and rural interests of the membership, and to oversee the delivery of services that assist members in their business operations and decision-making processes. Serving on the RMA Board of Directors is an opportunity to help shape the direction and future of your organization and serve Alberta’s rural municipalities.
The RMA Board of Directors has 12 regular monthly meetings each year. Those elected to the RMA Board of Directors also serve on the following RMA subsidiary boards:
Genesis Reciprocal Insurance Exchange (GRIE)
These three business boards meet five times per year in a combined meeting under one RMA Business Services board agenda. These meetings are separate from the regular RMA monthly meetings. In addition to the aforementioned board meetings, there is a commitment to participate in two planning retreats each year.
RMA represents its members on over 70 committees and external boards, which are divided amongst the Board of Directors; committees require varying levels of commitment ranging from monthly to annual meetings.
Please refer to the convention agenda, which will be available on the RMA website, for nomination and election times. All nominations must be made from the floor and require a mover and a seconder. Both the mover and seconder may speak for a total of two minutes. Each electoral candidate will have five minutes to speak.
Electronic voting will be used for the election of the RMA Vice President and all district elections will be conducted by a ballot vote. In the case of an election that has three or more candidates, a clear majority (50 per cent plus one) must be obtained by one of the candidates to be declared the winner. If no majority is obtained in the first round of voting, the candidate with the fewest votes will be dropped, and another vote will occur. This process will be followed until one candidate receives the necessary clear majority.
Terms for Directors
Terms for elected board members shall commence at the conclusion of the Convention at which he/she is elected, and shall, unless sooner vacated, terminate at the conclusion of the Convention two (2) years hence. All board members elected will participate in an orientation with the organizational/first board meeting following the Fall 2019 Convention scheduled for December 19, 2019.
Cybera is hosting opportunities, seeking input on rural broadband issues
Providing broadband and cell phone service to rural Alberta is key for attracting investment, maintaining local businesses, and allowing all Albertans to participate in the digital economy. Providing these services in rural and remote areas requires innovative strategies and partnerships, and rural municipalities strive to make their communities great places to live and invest.
Cybera, a not-for-profit technical agency funded by the Ministry of Alberta Economic Development and Trade, is seeking input on accessing broadband resources in rural Alberta. To do so, they are hosting two half day sessions in:
Lethbridge September 25, 12:00 - 4:00 pm University of Lethbridge, Student Union Ballroom
Grande Prairie October 10, 12:00 - 4:00 pm Coca Cola Centre, KMSC Law Meeting Room
These sessions will review the digital resources Alberta has, discuss emerging trends, and accept feedback from communities about how Cybera can more efficiently advocate.
The University of Alberta is conducting a survey within municipalities on renewable energy projects.
The University of Alberta is surveying municipalities to gauge their level of interest and motivation for renewable energy projects. The purpose of the survey is to help identify the demand, opportunities, and barriers regarding renewable energy projects in Canadian municipalities. The results from the survey will help the U of A research team understand where there is demand for specific technologies, and will help legislators, developers, and decision-makers create smart and effective polices about renewable energy that will benefit municipalities.
The survey is estimated to take 20-30 minutes to complete and all those who fill out the survey are eligible to win one of two gift cards valued at $350.00.
RMA board members had the opportunity to discuss important issues for rural Alberta with three ministers this week
RMA had the opportunity to meet with three Government of Alberta ministers this week. These meetings are crucial for building relationships with the new government and discussing issues of importance for rural Alberta. RMA met with Minister Glubish (Service Alberta), Minister Dreeshen (Agriculture and Forestry), and Associate Minister Luan (Mental Health and Addictions). The following items were discussed:
Minister Glubish – Service Alberta
The importance of a Provincial Broadband Strategy
Expanding the cellphone coverage network
Rural highspeed internet is crucial for development, but it must also be delivered at a reasonable cost to the consumer
Minister Dreeshen – Agriculture and Forestry
While there is an agricultural plastics recycling pilot program, a permanent program for all agricultural plastics is necessary
There is an opportunity to learn from and improve responses regarding the large forest fires in northern Alberta this year
Funding for Agriculture Service Boards (ASBs) and agricultural societies is an investment in rural communities. These groups provide important services for the agricultural sector
Associate Minister Luan – Mental Health and Addictions
Access to mental health resources in rural Alberta is a challenge
To mitigate rural crime, access to mental health and addictions resources is important