Optimistic outlook from the mayor on Alberta’s new era
It’s much too early for municipal leaders to know what is coming their way from the new provincial government. But we asked Slave Lake Mayor Tyler Warman about it anyway.
“As a business person,” he said – “well, I guess as mayor too – business people are quite excited for the change.”
In Warman’s view, that sense of optimism is itself a positive force.
“Confidence builds momentum,” he says.
As far as any concrete indications go, there isn’t much yet, and Warman says that’s typical.
“Last time after the election, it was very difficult to get direction on where the government was going.”
It wasn’t until a few months had passed, Warman said, that things started to clear up. If it goes like that again, it could be just in time for the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference in September. Usually government ministers attend, and municipal reps have a chance to meet with them and share their particular concerns.
A big one – always – is provincial support for municipal infrastructure. It’s big-ticket stuff that towns and cities can’t afford on their own. The government’s answer to this has been a program called MSI – or Municipal Sustainability Initiative. Its future is up in the air, since it is due to expire in 2022.
“It’s in review,” Warman says. “Edmonton and Calgary have an agreement, but it’s not settled with rural towns. The AUMA is working on our behalf.”
New Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu will be boning up on all this stuff over the next few weeks. Prasad Panda is the other minister with a big influence on municipal fortunes: he’s the Minister of Infrastructure in the Kenney cabinet. Panda has a nodding familiarity with the area; he visited Slave Lake on a tour of the north as an Wildrose Party Opposition critic a couple of years ago. He was the Wildrose ‘shadow minister’ of economic development and trade at the time.
Madu is brand new to politics; at the time of the interview, Warman had never heard of him. He is the only UCP MLA elected in Edmonton.