Nine regional mayors met at the Art Gallery of Alberta Monday to sign a Memorandum of Understanding. The intention is to combat the findings of a study that suggests the fractured and competitive relationship is both expensive, and is costing the region economic opportunities.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says the work ahead is on crafting a legally binding nine way agreement.
“The biggest challenge there isn’t going to be will, because we’ve actually come through that as is evidence by today’s signing but is going to be time, because we have a window of opportunity with these mayors and with our councils to work through this ideally before the next municipal election, otherwise there’s risk and disruption of lost momentum.”
Iveson says this collection of agreed parties is supplemental to the Capital Region Board.
“The board has recognized and the province has said to the region, you should take a regional approach to economic development, and the board has struggled to figure out how to do that through the process of working with 24 municipalities around the board, but the nine of us have got together and said on the advice of our panel that we have to do this together.”
Leduc County Mayor John Whaley says despite the competition between municipalities, they all do get along.
“This region works very well together for the most part it really does, yeah there’s some tweaks there always is that you can do to make things better and that’s what we’re in the midst of doing, that’s what we’re doing now as a group as a region.”
Strathcona County was one of the regions that signed the MOU, and Mayor Roxanne Carr says the nine mayors agreed to tackle economic development, regional transit and land use and infrastructure planning, but they need to prioritize.
“Is it transit? Which is already going along very well, so that would be low hanging fruit perhaps. Is it economic development? Which we here in Alberta need so desperately at this time, would it be economic development? I’m putting my hand up on that one as a priority for this region and for the metro mayors’ alliance.”
As for land use and infrastructure planning, Carr feels the nine mayors are needed as more of support to the 24-member Capital Region Board.
The regional agreement would involve Edmonton, the counties of Strathcona, Leduc, Parkland and Sturgeon as well as Fort Saskatchewan, St Albert, Spruce Grove and the city of Leduc.