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Municipalities Seek Federal Attention Amid Strained Intergovernmental Relationships

Alberta Municipalities President Tyler Gandam

The ongoing strain between the federal government and some Provincial governemts was a significant topic at this weeks FCM Conference in Calgary.

Tyler Gandam, President of Alberta Municipalities and Mayor of Wetaskiwin, Alberta, highlighted this tension in his remarks to Municipal Affairs following Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's speech to FCM delegates in Calgary.

The Alberta Municipalities President acknowledged the evident strain between some provinces and the federal government, saying, "It's been pretty obvious that there are some strained relationships between some provinces and the federal government." Adding that Municipalities are stuck between a rock and a hard place in that strained relationship, "I don't think that municipalities share that feeling."

Supporting Trudeau's assertion that all three levels of government serve the same residents, Gandam emphasized the necessity for the federal government to consider municipal concerns seriously. "I think it's important that the federal government also hears municipal concerns. There are definitely opportunities for the federal government to help municipalities, especially on issues that are at the federal level," he stated.

However, in Alberta, this type of cooperation Gandam wants may face challenges due to the introduction - and passing - of Bill 18. This legislation would legally mandate the federal government to collaborate with the provincial government on municipal issues.

Gandam intended to address this matter with the Prime Minister but did not have the opportunity during a Q and A session with FCM Delegates. He wanted to ask, "What is the impact to municipalities having to go through the province to get agreements signed or to apply for grant funding?"

The ABMunis President shared insights from his Quebec counterparts about the challenges they face due to similar legislative requirements. "They have told me about some of the hurdles that they have with it, the amount of staff that it takes to also vet some of those requests," he noted. Quebec remains the only province where the federal government is required to work through the provincial government on municipal matters.

In response to delegates' concerns, Trudeau dismissed the notion that provinces that pass legislation that would legally require the federal government to stop working with municipalities as "ridiculous. His comments aimed to reassure municipal leaders of the federal government's commitment to addressing their issues directly. "One of the things that I've seen over the past years is because the federal government has been stepping up for municipalities, provincial governments have been stepping back," Trudeau stated in his speech to delegates at FCM on Friday. "(The Province) has been saying things like, okay, we're going to invest in this wastewater, but only if the federal government comes in on half, or we're going to help out with operational funding on some of the public transit uses, but the federal government has to come in on operational funding as well."


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