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Mayor Reynolds on key topics from ABmunis Leaders Caucus

Posted on March 28, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Brylan Span

At a recent ABmunis Leaders Caucus in Edmonton, three main points of discussion were brought forward stemming from the provincial government’s 2024 budget release. The topics were infrastructure, policing, and political parties at the municipal level of government.

With the provincial government allocating $3.6 billion to infrastructure projects in the 2024 budget, ABmunis wanted to make sure that decisions on where that money is used is decided at a municipal level. Bow Island Mayor Gordon Reynolds was in agreement with ABmunis on the topic. 

“Those decisions need to be made locally.”

“I know with the new local government system framework, the LGSF, it starts with a funding pot and then a formula that’s used to calculate how it’s split up between the municipalities,” explained Reynolds. “We had advocated for basically double the funding pot from what they had, and that’s just for trying to catch up on aged infrastructure, nevermind adding new infrastructure. So that’s been the position of ABmunis, I think that’s the position of RMA as well, and on a local basis we have to agree with that.”

Reynolds says that “as far as funding from the provincial government, there’s always been a paternal attitude where ‘we know what’s best for you.’” He added “There is probably some doubt that in the past there have been communities that haven’t spent wisely but for the most part I think most communities do their best to be responsible and become more sophisticated in their financial management.”

“There is local issues that get lost if you paint everything with a broad brush out of Edmonton,” said Reynolds. “We feel that we should be able to make those local decisions and decide where that money goes. Along with that is a responsibility to make that all work.”

Another large point of contention was the passing of Bill 11, which continues to lay the framework for an independent Alberta policing agency. ABmunis had many questions about things such as cost and how the agency would be governed, and they felt as if they were not being properly consulted on the matter.

“It would appear that they are bound and determined to create a provincial police force, and I suspect that they are just setting up to ultimately replace the RCMP no matter what the rest of us have said,” stated Reynolds. “It’s puzzling in some regards, the minister (Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis) said ‘well this isn’t about replacing the RCMP’. What exactly is the role? I don’t know that that’s clear at this point. I think regardless of what the surveys have said, regardless of what the advocacy from the municipal associations have said and from individual municipalities, they seem to be determined to have their own police force and so they are going to push it through, it would appear.”

The final main topic was that of political parties in municipal governments. ABmunis has been adamant that this is not something they would be in favour of, and Reynolds shared the same belief.

“It’s not just at the council level, I think people in general recognize that the political party system that we have in our country right now at the federal and provincial levels has become so polarized that there is no middle ground,” stated Reynolds. “At the municipal level, we tend to collaborate more, we tend to not be so polarized, we are there to do the best for the community as a whole.”

Another side of this that Reynolds sees as a big issue is the fact that municipal governments shouldn’t be impacted by political values, rather working towards what’s best for the local community. 

“We are making local decisions on local issues, and this is being done by local people,” said Reynolds. “We don’t need to be beholden to the philosophy of or direction of some political party. We are a predominantly conservative community, but I’ve sat at the council table with people who had other leanings, and we worked together for the common good of our community. I don’t know what problem it is they think they are trying to fix.”

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