Day 1 AUMA 2020: Together We Can!

The AUMA 2020 Conference kicked off its live sessions today with important messages from leaders from across the country. AUMA has been running informative education sessions since September 16, with topics ranging from resilient small communities to economic development to social issues such as racism and inclusionary policy making. The day began with an address from the AUMA board and a message from Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary. Mayor Nenshi spoke about resiliency throughout COVID-19 and spoke about the need to continue to prioritize inclusion and anti-racism as leaders throughout Alberta. We then heard from AUMA leadership, speaking about Alberta becoming leaders in clean energy, creating innovative energy infrastructure and improving economic competitiveness while providing additional jobs in the energy sector.

Following these opening remarks, keynote speaker Peter Mansbridge gave his address. While explaining that he is no expert in municipal affairs, he gave praise to municipal leaders for being at the frontlines of change throughout COVID-19. He explained that the federal government holds all the money, the province holds the power, but municipalities have all of the responsibility—and this is never truer than in difficult times such as COVID-19. Mansbridge then went on to explain that upper levels of government seem to have a lack of understanding of the energy crisis, which was highlighted in Trudeau’s speech to the throne. Finally, he gave additional praise to municipalities for not just throwing in the towel, but rather taking on new innovative approaches to ongoing public services. He provided an example from his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, who expanded broadband and outdoor learning spaces for students to use while the weather is still favorable, lessening the risk to COVID-19.
The rest of the day was dedicated to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and voting on important resolutions for municipalities. The AGM heard from current AUMA leadership and highlighted many of the accomplishments over 2020, including (but not limited to): speaking to the introduction of a new police costing model, which will be on hold until 2021 due to COVID-19 (however, the province did announce new funding for rural municipalities); the need for a new costing model and the establishment of a new framework for providing infrastructure funding (announced in 2019) with new funding set to be established in 2022-23 through the Local Government Fiscal Framework; and speaking to available funding for municipalities including $50 million through the Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Program (STIP).

Following elections for new AUMA leadership, several resolutions were looked at and voted on to close out the first day of the live sessions. There were numerous resolutions of note, including (but not limited to): a motion to implement a 1% provincial sales tax that would go directly to support municipal capital projects; a motion to make the province responsible for collecting the education property tax as opposed to municipalities; a motion to support permanent transit funding; and a motion to implement sustainable funding for water and wastewater funding.

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