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Innisfail's new council took in AUMA convention

No big news was expected but new council members get to meet important contacts
MVT Innisfail council AUMA 2021
Innisfail's new council shortly after the Oct. 18 general municipal election. Council members and the town's CAO headed to Edmonton for three days to attend their first AUMA convention. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – With just over a month into their first term the town’s new council and chief administrative officer headed up to Edmonton recently for the annual Alberta Urban Municipalities Association's (AUMA) convention and trade show.

It was the first one since 2019, with last year’s event cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three-day event, which ran from Nov. 17 to 19, attracted the registration of more than 1,000 AUMA members and 100 exhibitors, with another 200 planning to participate virtually.

Premier Jason Kenney was scheduled to attend Nov. 19, with Opposition leader Rachel Notley coming the day before.

Mayor Jean Barclay said the event is a good opportunity for the town’s still new council members to get to know each other better and take in valuable information that comes out of the convention.

“It is good for council to meet other elected officials and to see what is happening in the province as a whole,” she said, adding it’s also an opportunity to meet senior provincial leaders, like Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.  “We have a short session with him and we are looking forward to that.

“We also have an opportunity to hear our provincial leaders speak,” added Barclay. “It’s always a good three days, and we always come away with some good ideas. It’s a really good time at the start of a new term for council to get together and know each other better.”

Although there will be excellent networking opportunities at the conference, no big announcements or answers for big priorities or issues are expected.

“It is not really the place that is going to happen. It is more of a place where there are several break-out sessions on different topics you can go to, like Alberta’s hydrogen strategy, and climate initiatives," said the mayor. "It’s just a great learning opportunity to be there.”

The AUMA conference comes at a crucial time for every municipality. The intense severity of the COVID pandemic has recently been slowed down but it’s still a troubling factor for every municipality, and meeting municipal counterparts and provincial officials at such a large gathering is considered a beneficial way to measure the provincial pulse for the road ahead.

“I think we are seeing some life in the economy. We are seeing some economic growth happening, and I believe we are seeing some exciting times for Alberta ahead. We are starting to see companies come into Alberta,” said Barclay optimistically. However, a better measurement may come when all municipalities are notified about provincial support for 2022, especially MSI funding to help with infrastructure needs.

“My understanding is that the government is working on a new deal for municipalities but we don’t know the details of that yet,” said Barclay, adding the town did receive “a kind of prepayment” last year to help with COVID and the ongoing struggles all municipalities were having.

“We know because of that it is going to be reduced somewhat this year but we don’t have all the final details at this point.”


Johnnie Bachusky

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