By Justin Seward
Cypress County’s director of public works, Curtis Richter, went back to school over the last year.
From doing some pre-class readings to making the trek to Camrose every couple of months for one day classes, at the end he received his certificate in Rural Municipal Leadership earlier this month.
“It was an awesome experience,” said Richter.
“A lot of my own time was involved in it, but well worth it.”
The course had six one-day classes at the University of Alberta’s Augustana Campus and included strategic leadership, communication and engagement, planning and action, municipal collaboration and change management.
Classes were taught by Doug Griffths, who is the president and CEO of 13 Ways Inc. Griffths learned practical life lessons and developed a strong work ethic and found a deeper understanding of what it takes to be successful and having the wrong attitude can ensure failure.
He stepped away from a successful career in provincial politics in 2015 and got involved in a keen interest of his, building better communities. In his best selling book, “13 ways to Kill your Community,” he identifies what challenges communities face.
Curriculums were designed for mayors, reeves, councillors and municipal administration and was designed for specific issues of importance to communities and to be responsive to the needs of rural municipal leaders who have articulated a desire for more advanced education.
“I just felt their was some value to them and of course I looked at the titles of the modules that were involved and every one of them I had an interest to,” said Richter.
“They all apply to rural municipal leadership. And learning more about your community and other communities throughout Alberta and communities that struggle.”
There is a governance component learned as well with a how councils work and the MGA (Municipal Government Act), he added.
The higher levels of government and management would break off into group sessions, where they were given a problem to trouble shoot.
“It was kind of neat working as a director level in public works,” he said.
“It was really cool to see how the councillors, mayors and reeves would think at the governance level and then how they would turn to myself and say ‘how are we going to solve this problem.’”
“We’d work together and it was a lot of fun (and) a lot of good engagement.”
The important thing he learned is how resources are used in the rural municipalities compared to the urban.
Water, rural transportation challenges and a balanced agriculture settings were among the topics discussed.