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OPINION: Announcement? What Announcement?



In the intricate dance of governance, it is often the municipalities that bear the brunt of strain and frustration when their provincial and federal counterparts make significant announcements without any prior consultation or warning.


In our conversations with municipal leaders, a recurring theme emerges: Municipalities rely heavily on financial support from higher levels of government to meet their obligations to citizens.


However, inconsistent funding, shifting budget priorities, and a lack of long-term financial planning leave municipalities in a perpetual state of uncertainty. This uncertainty hampers their ability to undertake necessary infrastructure projects, maintain essential services, and plan for the future. Without a stable and predictable source of funding, municipalities are left to scramble and make do with insufficient resources.


One need not look far for a poignant example of this disconnect. A local incident in Alberta vividly illustrates this issue. I was working for a small municipality in northern Alberta, when a provincial Cabinet Minister visited a town to make a grant funding announcement, municipal leaders were as blindsided as the rest of the community. The news circulated through the grapevine, leading to a situation where the Mayor and Council were not informed of the visit or the impending announcement.


Furthermore, communication and cooperation between levels of government often fall short of what is needed. Decision-making processes are frequently opaque, leaving municipalities out of the loop on matters that directly impact their communities.

Along with the issue of funding in my conversations with municipal leaders, another more important recurring theme emerged, and that is a lack of communication and collaboration that leaves municipalities in the dark until the eleventh hour.


This is where I want to focus this opinion piece.


I had a first-hand experience that vividly showcased the frustrations faced by municipalities when dealing with higher levels of government. It was a striking example of the lack of communication and transparency that often leaves municipal leaders in the dark until the eleventh hour.


This incident unfolded while working in a small town in Alberta when I heard through the grapevine that a Cabinet Minister was scheduled to make a grant funding announcement. The news travelled fast, and seizing the opportunity, I attended the event, captured some photos, and shared the announcement on the town's social media. Little did I know that this seemingly harmless act would lead to a surprising turn of events.


Within hours, I was summoned to the CAO's office, where I was questioned about the Minister's visit and the grant announcement. To my astonishment, the Mayor and Council had been left entirely uninformed about the Minister's visit to our town, let alone the significant grant being awarded to a local group.


This incident shed light on a pervasive issue - the unfortunate lack of consultation, collaboration, and timely communication between different levels of government. It left our municipal leadership and, by extension, our community, scrambling to make sense of a decision that directly impacted us.


The incident I experienced is not an isolated one.


In a recent case in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, Mayor David Mitchell found himself "shocked" by a provincial announcement affecting his community. The lack of consultation and forewarning left him with concerns about the capacity of municipal infrastructure to accommodate a new grant for government-owned affordable housing.


While the news is certainly welcomed, the surprise factor raised questions about the municipality's ability to approve and support the development.


The frustration voiced by municipal leaders across the nation underscores the urgent need for improved communication and cooperation. If provincial and federal politicians aim to have municipalities on board when tackling national and regional issues, they must recognize that this will not happen by chance. It demands a proactive approach involving open lines of communication, shared information, and a genuine commitment to consult with municipalities before the 11th hour.


Municipalities are at the forefront of addressing the day-to-day needs of our communities, and they play an essential role in the success of national and provincial initiatives. The strains and frustrations they face, as seen in these examples, only hinder their ability to serve their residents effectively.


It is high time for our provincial and federal counterparts to reevaluate their approach. They must understand that the path to successful governance and community development is paved with collaboration and consultation.


So, let us bridge the gap that has left our municipalities in the dark for far too long. It's time to engage in meaningful dialogue and work together for the betterment of our shared future.



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