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40 Mile Reeve Barrows on main discussion points from RMA conference

Posted on April 4, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Brylan Span
Commentator/Courier

40 Mile Reeve Stacey Barrows was in attendance at the recent Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) spring conference. Politics in municipal elections, oil and gas tax revenue loss, impending drought conditions, and infrastructure were main points of discussion for members of the RMA.

The Alberta government is considering legislation that will force municipal government candidates to list a political party when running for a position. Through surveys and council discussions, it has been clear that municipalities and Alberta residents are against this. 

“I know that many people are against that,” said Barrows. “We actually brought a resolution forward at RMA on maintaining a non-partisan municipal election. So I think we are all in (agreement) across the province that provincial politics or party politics means nothing when it comes to municipalities, because we are essentially a municipal government that looks out for our community and the best interests within our community.”

Something that Barrows said continually comes up every conference is the loss of oil gas revenue, specifically due to companies in the sector not paying their taxes. 

“We’ve tried to pass resolutions,” explained Barrows. “The government has said they are going to end the tax vacation that they gave the oil and gas companies. So we are just putting pressure on them to make sure that they do end that vacation. It’s supposed to end at the end of 2024, so we are really hoping that will happen.”

With the province set to face possible drought consequences due to lack of snowfall and snowpack, Barrows said it was it was a big topic of discussion.

“I think it’s a bigger topic in the south than the north, but it did come up,” said Barrows. “It is (on everyone’s mind). The snowfall (lately) has been lovely, I’m hoping everyone feels the same way.”

The topic of infrastructure was also discussed according to Barrows. The 2024 Alberta government budget was recently released, and $3.6 billion was set aside for infrastructure. The RMA discussed the need for municipalities to be able to decide on an individual basis where that money is spent in communities, and not have the government make the final decisions. 

“The smaller municipalities do get smaller dollars with probably the same infrastructure costs in a roundabout sort of way based on scale,” explained Barrows. “I imagine some of the smaller urban municipalities feel the same way.” She also mentioned that, “I know that another hot topic was asking for more money. More money everywhere. In healthcare, volunteer fire, regional economic development alliances, it just came up with a lot of them.”

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