Adoption of a Rural Lens
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Municipalities do a lot. They plan for development. They provide services. They build and maintain all sorts of infrastructure from roads and bridges to hockey arenas to water systems. They also supplement and contribute to provincial services such as healthcare.
In rural municipalities, these responsibilities look different than in towns and cities. Because rural municipalities are so large, have dispersed populations, and host high levels of industrial activity, a method to delivering a service that works well in an urban community may be impossible to duplicate in a rural area. Another example may be a provincial program that allocates funding based on population. It seems simple: the more people in a municipality, the more funding it receives. However, in rural municipalities, capital and service delivery costs are driven by factors such as industrial development and providing services to sparsely populated areas much more than by the simple number of people. Making sure programs are developed and funding is distributed in a way that reflects need in both urban and rural municipalities requires government decision-makers to understand the perspectives of both.
The RMA is calling on parties and candidates to support development of a rural lens to ensure that policy, funding, and program decisions consider rural perspectives. When debating new legislation or a policy change, MLAs and government staff should have a formal mechanism in place to consider how decisions might impact rural communities. This can be achieved by asking questions like: