Question: How will you recognize the needs of Calgary and Edmonton, and how do you see this reflected in a new legislative framework for the cities?
Answer: The Alberta NDP believes that a new relationship needs to be developed between the cities and the Province. This relationship must move beyond the paternalistic one that has prevailed for a long time and not consist of municipalities responding and the province sitting in the driver’s seat all the time. Instead it should be based on regular on-going and equitable communication and collaboration between these partners with the purpose of doing primarily two things:
- Identify the needs and infrastructure deficits of cities like Calgary and Edmonton
- Work together to design a new funding model (reflected in legislation) and discuss other opportunities, such as Big City Charters, that would give municipalities the tools they need to implement long term planning.
Question: Is the Municipal Government Act adequate to meet the needs of the large cities?
Answer: In 2011 the GoA budgeted to ensure a review and restructuring of the property assessment system; one year later the review was still in its planning stage. Another year later, in 2012-2013, municipalities have received nothing but another commitment to undertake a comprehensive review.
This government has failed to engage municipalities in a meaningful discussion about how to review legislation and address growing municipal challenges and responsibilities, many of which are closely tied to revenue.
The Alberta NDP recognizes these tensions and is committed to putting the tired old top-down relationship between Province and municipalities behind us. The NDP believes that the Municipal Government Act needs to be rewritten based on three important principles:
- Municipalities must have clearly defined responsibilities.
- They must have access to financial resources that allow them to meet those responsibilities.
- They must be accountable for their decisions to their voters and not to other orders of government.
The Alberta NDP views municipalities as critical partners and our urban agenda reflects this.
Question: Would you prefer city charters or other legislative remedies to address this issue?
Answer: Municipalities are no longer the children of the province. They need to have powers that are consistent with their responsibilities. Legislation should reflect a match between the level of responsibility and the ability to pay. While a good debate about city charters still needs to take place, they are one way the province could broaden the parameters of the city and give more powers to them to meet the needs of their citizens, rather than the demands of other orders of government.
Alberta's NDP official website - albertandp.ca