Seeking a meaningful partnership with whichever political party forms the next provincial government was continually pressed by Cochrane Mayor Jeff Genung while chairing the Mid-sized Cities caucus discussions with leaders of four Alberta political parties, Jan. 31.
The meeting of the mayors and chief administrative officers of the caucus of 22 Alberta municipalities attracted NDP leader Rachel Notley, UCP Jason Kenney, Liberal David Khan and the Alberta Party's Stephen Mandell.
All four made presentations of about 20-minutes before a series of questions were asked that largely centred upon the need for legislated and predictable funding, provincial revenue sharing opportunities and collaboration on economic development opportunities. Most of all it was about improving the working relationship between municipalities and the provincial government.
Genung believes it was an important step for the caucus to be heard and recognized.
"People know who we are now," says Genung. "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."
"Now that they have it's a big deal. The media was there and everybody knows and has heard of mid-sized cities. It's quite exciting, it was a job well done."
AUMA president Barry Morishita, also mayor of Brooks, says it was a starting point to drawing attention to some serious issues facing mid-sized cities he believes requires the personal attention of the leaders.
"I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions about specifics and the fact is municipalities require specifics in order to do our planning. They all made a commitment to building a better relationship with us and we'll have to hold them accountable to that."
Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown says being recognized as a significant group was key.
"All of us individually face challenges in moving our agendas forward. As a group, with 22 people sitting here, we are a very powerful board. We have a larger populous than the City of Edmonton and we need to be recognized as such."
"There was a recognition that a relationship needed to be established with all of our group so I thought it went very well. The leaders all performed in a good way and presented their platforms."
Mayor Genung believes it was especially valuable to Cochrane as the host.
"I'm so excited to have highlighted Cochrane in the way that we did. The staff did such an amazing job of hosting the last couple days of events. Everything went off without a hitch."
"Putting Cochrane on the map was the intent of the overall event. It meant so much to have every party leader attend and show Cochrane and the mid-sized cities that they care about us."
The mid-sized cities caucus was formed 10 years ago to share ideas and discuss common issues.
"Just over the last few meetings and years, it has escalated to the point where we think we need to be heard," says Genung.
Municipal Affairs minister Shay Anderson attended the opening session the day previous.