The Alberta Mid-sized Cities Mayors' Caucus (MCMC) is on the verge of taking another major step forward in demonstrating their communities' significant economic role in the province.
On Mar. 13, Cochrane town council endorsed the organization's Alberta Community Partnership (ACP) grant application to fund the four phases of the Unlocking the Full Potential of Alberta's Mid-sized Cities Initiative.
The grant proposal consists of the interconnected phases of fiscal sustainability, economic impact, mapping the road ahead and developing a common dashboard.
ACP grant applications are subject to approval by the minister of Municipal Affairs on a case-by-case basis and have no maximum funding amount or specific deadline.
"I've been talking to the minister of Municipal Affairs about it for quite some time and I've warned her that we're going to be putting in an application," says Mayor Jeff Genung, also MCMC chair. "The minister has been quite supportive all the way along of us. They have been referencing mid-sized cities now in their language when they're talking about funding for communities."
Genung says each community will gain some economic insight, plus the initiative will provide a broader database on the municipalities as a group and their collective impact on the province.
"That way we can better position ourselves in the eyes of provincial decision-makers and say here's some real data, here are some facts, and this is why we think you need to align with us. We want to be a part of building the province together, so let's work together."
Genung says the size of the grant application hasn't been determined as of yet, but it will be somewhere between $250,000 and $400,000.
"We want to apply for enough to be able to make a difference. So, if we just scratch the surface with this study, it probably won't deliver what we need. We really want to make sure we do a good job and apply for enough funding to get the data that we require to take us to that next level."
It follows along the path of a strategic planning session in the spring of 2022 in Grande Prairie by the caucus. MCMC has been assisted by MNP that has so far been donating its time to provide professional and administrative support.
"So that was kind of the impetus to start to take us to the next level during our meetings in caucus next week."
MCMC will be meeting in Cochrane for three days next week and, among other things, will be discussing branding and applying for the grant, says Genung. Besides Cochrane, he says numerous others municipalities have already endorsed the grant application.
It will also be meeting in private with the leaders of three major provincial political parties.
The Alberta Mid-sized Mayors' Caucus (MCMC) isn't a new organization, but in recent years has stepped up its advocacy role. It started to shift four years ago when it hosted four major provincial political party leaders in Cochrane. Also MCMC chair at the time, Genung saw it as a triumphant moment for the organization.
"People know who we are now," said Genung after that Jan. 31, 2019 meeting. "I think some of them didn't even know we existed until two weeks ago, and now they have spoken to us as a group."
Since then, the message has only been growing stronger.
"I've put a lot of energy into this group. I see great potential in the 24 communities getting together. We represent a million Albertans, so we're kind of like the third largest city in Alberta. We have 35 different constituencies and MLAs that represent our needs, so we have a big chunk of the provincial legislature represented in our group. Leveraging that has always been an opportunity from my perspective."