by Jeff Burgar
Now, give or take a few days, it would be just six months to our next town and county elections. Six months that is, if we were following the old rules of city, municipal district, county, Metis settlement or town elections every three years.
The rules changed in the last election. Instead of the previous three-year terms, we now have four-year terms. There were reasons given by many of the politicians who argued for this change. They said four years would give time for councillors to “get things done.” They would not spend their years just “learning the job” and then find themselves in the middle of another election. At which they would often find themselves turfed out, with all of their great projects left half-finished.
Then the whole cycle of learning, understanding, making a case, and then having to get elected starts all over again for the new councillors.
Yes, indeed. So, now all of Alberta is in the wonderful world of four-year terms. And how is it working out? Oh, about the same as usual.
In Alberta, there are boring councils, pretty well doing much of the same ol’ same ol’. This is probably very good. When it comes to fixing potholes, running water systems, making sure sewers carry away what they are supposed to carry away, we really don’t need imagination and ideas.
There are a few councils constantly scrapping. The Province of Alberta can, and has stepped in and slapped the wrists of some governments in Alberta. Councillors can be dismissed. The Province can step in and run the show. There are a few right now around Alberta, including counties and Metis settlements, and there will be more in the future.
There are also fights over top management. Edmonton city council just canned its top manager over holidays and expense account spending. Then they gave him an $800,000 going away present.
Finally, what about progressive councils? You know, those councils in places where the local economy is going gang busters? Places where construction is hopping, jobs are happening, businesses are opening, schools are building. All of course, due to the efforts of dedicated, intelligent, hard-working local governments.
Actually, if anybody across Alberta could snap their fingers and “create” growth and jobs, we are sure the rest of this province would be beating a path to their door. Absolutely!
Maybe growth cannot be forced to happen. But definitely, local governments can create the environment that will encourage and support development. From good roads, to an educated work force, to planned out future growth, to low taxes, to something that seems as simple as looking after our local tourist industry [lake water levels anybody?] and more. Alberta’s economy is on its heels. But there is still development and building.
Our existing governments, anywhere in Alberta, can look around the table at their fellow councillors and ask, “What would we be remembered for if we only had six months left?”
For many, the answer is “Thank heaven” they actually have another year to work on creating the positive business environment that brings growth.