Councillors to bend the ears of government ministers

Town council hashes out a list of priorities

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

There’s something a bit strange about making plans when in two weeks you might be out of a job. But that is what municipal councils have to do at this time of an election year and town councillors got busy last week planning for a conference coming up in November.
The topic was what issues they’d like to talk to government ministers about at the upcoming Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference in Calgary.
This annual affair gives municipal reps the irresistible opportunity to bend the ears of government people who may actually be willing to do something to help. But, said mayor Tyler Warman, it’s better to go with a small number of items than attempt the scattershot approach. Hence the need for discussion, to decide what those would be, and then which ministers to aim them at.
Warman advised that “two to four items,” would be enough. As it turned out, many more than that were proposed in the discussion that followed. They included several items on the health care front (the need for new quarters for the ambulance service, wait times at the FCC, doctor recruitment, transport to medical appointments for seniors).
If councillors get a meeting with the minister of Economic Development and Trade they will lobby for provincial funding of the regional economic development group, as being as worthy as other groups in the province for such support.
The Solicitor General might get to hear that the town would like its automated traffic enforcement contractor to be given permission to issue tickets for distracted driving. The technology apparently exists, but permission from the SolGen has not been forthcoming.
As it happens, council is divided on the issue of the program as it stands. Councillors Joy McGregor and Julie Brandle both said they’d support the lobby for distracted driving to be added to the arsenal. Others were less enthusiastic, reflecting their positions stated one night earlier at the candidates’ forum.
Councillor Darin Busk asked if it was possible to get a referendum on ‘photo’ radar on the election ballot. Not a chance, said Warman. There isn’t time.
“Too much money,” was councillor Ferguson’s comment.
If a meeting with the Minister of Environment and Parks is secured, council would like to talk about a cleaner Devonshire Beach. Another thing, said Warman, would be to lobby for legislation allowing campgrounds to charge a bit extra on their fees to bolster the ‘Destination Marketing Fund’ (DMF). Currently, only hotels can do that. The DMF is used (or will be) to promote tourism.
Provincial support for a homeless shelter will be on the agenda if council manages to hook up with the minister responsible for seniors and housing. The transportation of seniors to medical appointments would also likely come up in that conversation.
The AUMA convention this year is Nov. 22 – 24. Council asked for letters to be drafted to the various ministers requesting meetings. Included in those letters will be an offer to drop into the legislature on the way to or from Calgary, should the meeting or meetings not be possible at the conference.

 

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