Municipal cooperation across region in the future

County of Wetaskiwin, Town of Millet hold IDP open house last week

Cooperation between municipalities is now the name of the game, according to the provincial government. To that end, the County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet held two open houses this past week.

All municipalities in Alberta, under the authority of the Municipal Government Act, are required to have intermunicipal development plans in place with all other municipalities they have a border with. While the motivation for these mandatory agreements seems to be conflict between Edmonton, Calgary and their satellites, mandatory cooperation will be part of local government going forward in Alberta.

The County of Wetaskiwin held an open house July 4 in Wetaskiwin’s arts centre in conjunction with many other municipalities. The local county has a full plate when it comes to agreements, as County of Wetaskiwin touches a number of other municipalities, including the Camrose County, Ponoka County and Leduc County.

Reeve Kathy Rooyakkers said the County of Wetaskiwin traditionally gets along well with its neighbours so IDPs, while mandatory, won’t necessarily change a lot of things.

She said the IDPs are a good idea as eliminating duplication and waste is something every municipality should be interested in.

As well, she said seeing everything other municipalities are working on was exciting, as it looks like every municipality has a lot of great projects going on.

County councilor Keith Johnson agreed with the reeve. “For us it’s not a huge deal because we’ve been doing a lot of that already,” Johnson said at the open house. Johnson said it looks like the IDPs will need some fine-tuning, but nothing monumental.

County councilor Larry McKeever said he was a bit disappointed that the province is forcing municipalities to work together, as he feels that’s not the best way to get cooperation. McKeever said he feels the IDP process seems to be a huge make-work project that the taxpayers will have to pay for.

Staff and council members were present, and organizers estimated about 40 local residents dropped by to get information.

Town of Millet

The next day, July 5, both the County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet hosted an open house to present their IDP at the Agriplex.

Elizabeth Armitage, principal, Vicinia Planning &Engagement Inc., has been working with municipalities drafting IDPs.

She said the open houses so far have been positive. Armitage noted rural municipalities tend to have a lot in common, even though each may have their own nuances.

County and town staff were on hand to speak with the public, together with Reeve Rooyakkers and Mayor Tony Wadsworth, plus councilors.

According to the county website, “An Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework highlights and formalizes existing collaborative work between adjacent municipalities and provides a forum for neighbouring municipalities to work together to best serve the citizens they represent.

“An Intermunicipal Development Plan allows two or more municipalities to address growth and coordinate planning activities on the boundary areas of the municipalities.”