Mayor Jeff Genung believes the Mid-Sized Cities Mayors' Caucus (MCMC) is making headways in developing a stronger partnership with the province.
Genung, who chairs the caucus, says remarks by Premier Danielle Smith, Opposition leader Rachel Notley and Alberta Party leader Barry Moshita all included multiple references to developing a stronger partnership with the mid-sized cities.
For the first time, Municipal Affairs minister Rebecca Schultz spoke of a potential mid-sized cities fund to help address infrastructure deficits.
"Minister Schultz talked about the potential in the upcoming budget for 2024 for a mid-sized city growth fund, which we're hearing now for the first time," says Genung. "If the only thing that ever came from mid-sized cities was a nod towards growing communities such as Cochrane and the ability to access more funding because of our growth, that will be a huge win."
Representatives of 24 Alberta communities were in Cochrane from Mar. 22 to 24. to discuss common issues that also included affordable housing, homelessness, public safety, and emergency medical services.
In addition to meeting with provincial political leaders, the municipal leaders agreed to increase their annual contributions to $5,000 from $2,000 each in 2024. Up until now, its work has primarily been done off the corners of desks.
"We're looking to maybe add a resource in the future where we can start to have a professional organization with a 24/7 kind of attention to matters. That was good to see," he says.
The caucus also approved a $400,000 funding application to the Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) grant to fund the four-phase initiative entitled Unlocking the Full Potential of Alberta's Mid-sized Cities. He says 10 of the municipalities have passed resolutions to support the application, including Cochrane, and they'll continue to collect signatories but were required to apply by Mar. 31.
During their stay, the mayors visited The Station at Cochrane Crossing and received an overview of recently completed and ongoing Cochrane infrastructure projects.
The caucus held a press scrum on day one of the meetings. Despite an invitation from the mayors, Premier Danielle Smith declined to participate.