Highlights: Standing policy committee meetings

Alberta Municipalities' standing policy committees have completed the last of their four meetings for the year. Here are some highlights from committee meetings held in June and July.

Small Communities Committee

This committee is responsible for reviewing and providing advice on opportunities and challenges affecting the sustainability of small communities, access to health care outside metropolitan areas, as well as providing a small communities perspective on key Alberta Municipalities policy initiatives.

At its June 28 meeting, the committee:

  • Had a discussion with Dr. Vivian Abboud, CEO of the Alberta School Boards Association, on how municipalities and school boards can work together more collaboratively on joint use agreements, school infrastructure, and the potential of political parties in local elections. 
  • Heard updates on Emergency Medical Services, the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) recycling change in Alberta and discussed priorities for the 2023-24 workplan for the Small Communities Committee. 

Economic Strategy Committee

The scope of topics addressed by this committee includes matters and resolutions related to labour and immigration; jobs, economy, innovation, and technology; energy policies and market access; and advanced education.

At its June 29 meeting, the committee:

  • Heard from Dr. Clark Banack, Director of the Alberta Centre for Sustainable Rural Communities. The ACSRC focuses on researching and sharing knowledge to support the resiliency of rural communities in Alberta. 
  • Heard from Carolina Calderon, Director of Policy for the Alberta Region, Prairies Economic Development Canada (PrairiesCan). The federal department is conducting public engagement with stakeholders on the Building a Green Prairie Economy Act, which aims to focus federal efforts to support regional economic growth on the Prairies. 
  • Heard from Cathy Edwards, Co-operatives First – a not-for-profit dedicated to providing start-up resources to support rural and Indigenous entrepreneurs across Western Canada. Co-operatives First has applied for a grant to Community Economic Development and Diversification with PrairiesCan to establish $10-a-day daycare. The Committee also recommended to the Board that ABmunis share a letter of support to PrairiesCan. 

Municipal Governance Committee

This committee encompasses municipal legislation, property assessment and tax policy, municipal revenue and cost sharing, intermunicipal cooperation, the municipal sustainability strategy, roles and responsibilities of municipalities, citizen engagement, Indigenous relations, and resolutions policy and procedure.

At its June 16 meeting, the committee:

  • Reviewed the submitted resolutions from members for the 2023 Resolution Session at the Convention.
  • Reviewed the revised Code of Conduct Guide developed by ABmunis and RMA and recommended its approval by the Board.
  • Discussed the Municipal Governance Education Session at Convention, the Community Organization Property Tax Exemption Regulation, which sets out the criteria for granting property tax exemptions to non-profit organizations, and committee priorities for the 2023-24 workplan.

Infrastructure Committee

The scope of matters addressed by this committee includes municipal infrastructure financing, related grants and transfers, tangible capital assets, asset management, transportation and public works, roads and bridges, rights of way including utilities, and disaster planning and emergency management.

At its July 6 meeting, the committee:

  • Recommended to the Board that ABmunis submit the 2022 resolution, Operational Transit Funding for Small to Medium-sized Municipalities, to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. The resolution directed ABmunis to advocate to the federal government for the inclusion of small to medium-sized municipalities in the forthcoming rural transit program. 
  • Discussed the Committee’s Education session at Convention on ‘Net Zero Infrastructure Projects’, and the Alberta Utilities Commission’s upcoming proceeding on directing refunds to municipalities through streetlight maximum level investments. 

Sustainability and Environment Committee

The scope of matters addressed by this committee includes matters pertaining to water; climate change; clean air, brownfields; solid waste management; land use planning and cumulative effects management; and municipal sustainability planning.

At its July 14 meeting, the committee:

  • Held the final meeting of the year in the Town of Stettler. The Committee planned a field trip to Stettler’s engineered wetlands, which helps purify wastewater. 
  • Discussed the recent amendment to the Stormwater Reuse regulations allowing municipalities to reuse certain amounts of stormwater without requiring a Water Act license. Recommended the Board accept the categorization of ‘Intent partially met – further action will be taken’ as the related ABmunis resolution advocates for the ability to reuse stormwater matching pre and post development levels.
  • Heard presentations from Bart Muusse, Ducks Unlimited, on the current state of wetlands in Alberta and from Corina Copp and Shannon Wagner, University of Alberta, on the Alberta Biodiversity Tool, which allows municipalities to create customized reports on biodiversity in their region. 
  • Discussed the What We Learned Report on the Future of Municipal Government paper, Climate Risk Assessment and Adaptation Considerations for Municipal Governance

Safe and Healthy Communities Committee

This committee’s scope includes matters pertaining to health and safety (including emergency medical response and police funding); social programs (Family and Community Support Services (FCSS)), poverty reduction, affordable housing, and homelessness); culture and recreation; and welcoming and inclusive communities.

At its July 14 meeting, the committee:

  • Discussed the federal government’s response to the ABmunis resolution on cannabis plant limits for residential properties. The Government of Canada acknowledges “a concerning trend with the size of certain personal and designated production sites and issues associated with them.” The response listed several ways that Health Canada has strengthened its oversight of this permitting process. The Committee recommended to the Board that the response be categorized as 'Intent partially met – further action will be taken.'
  • Heard from Chief Superintendent Peter Tewfik on the RCMP’s Community Safety and Well-Being Branch, which works proactively to reduce crime and victimization by addressing the contributing root causes. It is the first province-wide branch of its type in the RCMP.
  • Heard from Dr. Sarah Schulman, InWithFoward – an organization working directly with poverty and social isolation. InWithForward is documenting urban wellness in Edmonton and forging ties between marginalized Edmontonians and the broader community. 
  • Discussed affordable housing with Jacqueline Alderton and Jenny Grant with the Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association.