A whole bunch of amendments to the Municipal Government Act have been updated after a summer long consultation tour was launched after they were first tabled in the spring. The work isn’t done, as the Notley government will continue to work on regulations into 2017.
“It’s a mix,” said Mayor Don Iveson after his first review of the changes. “You know, we’ve been heard on certain things, other things we would do differently but a lot of the devil will be in the details of the regulations and we’ll learn more about that moving into the new year.”
One thing Edmonton asked for, and hasn’t received so far but still could is a provision for parental leave for a sitting city councillor. “That’s really positive when it comes to making municipal government more accessible to younger candidates, and particularly to women. I think we’ve seen the government listen on some things like that.”
How levies are charged for facilities like rec centres, libraries and fire halls have been cleared up. There’s a thirty per cent population and use threshold for funding that deals with growth, as a cut off on when the province kicks in funding or doesn’t. That has more of an impact on smaller centres but Edmonton has shown an interest in that.
With the good, there’s the bad. Iveson isn’t happy about how the work of an ombudsperson will be in his words, ‘a make work project’ duplicating what the city auditor does.
“Our view is that to have another order of government provide ombudsservice for your order of government represents a reduction in the autonomy and legitimacy in your order of government. It’s sort of like having dad looking over your shoulder all the time.”
“Like I get the province having an ombudsservice for itself. The city should have an ombudsservice for itself. We substantially have that through our city auditor already. If there’s a need to expand that to deal with different kinds of citizens’ concerns I think the city should be able to do that rather than the province doing that over our shoulder. I think that’s an over reach.”
Edmonton also has on its plate, community economic work with Enoch. There are discussions to get the band involved in regional planning. The province doesn’t have provision to include the First Nations in regional talks, but there is interest. it follows other federal work that’s been ongoing in other parts of the country. Edmonton is the largest municipality wanting to take that on.