A breakdown on local governance

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Columnist

The Mayor and council participated in the official groundbreaking for the Northside Recreation Centre Twin Arena last September. Up-to-date information and status on the  Northside Recreation Centre can be found at ONErec.ca. FILE PHOTO

The Mayor and council participated in the official groundbreaking for the Northside Recreation Centre Twin Arena last September. Up-to-date information and status on the Northside Recreation Centre can be found at ONErec.ca. FILE PHOTO

The purpose of this community column is to share what our local municipal council does on a regular basis; what their roles include, and even what issues they deal with in our region.

Here’s a simplified breakdown: we have ten councillors and our Mayor, Melissa Blake. John Chadi and Julia Cardinal represent Ward 2, which is the Fort Chipewyan area. Alan Vinni represents Ward 3, which is the Draper and Saprae Creek area.

Jane Stroud is the councillor for Ward 4, covering a large area – since it includes Conklin, Janvier and Anzac. And in Ward 1, which is within the city of Fort McMurray, we have six councillors, Lance Bussieres, Sheldon Germain, Keith MacGrath, Colleen Tatum, Tyran Ault and Phil Meagher.

It has been suggested, in the last few years, the councillors could be assigned to different areas of the city. For example, Germain would potentially represent Thickwood, while Bussieres could represent the downtown area, etc. Since this hasn’t been implemented, each councillor in Ward 1 represents the city, as a whole.

Our Mayor and council are also responsible for local government issues, such things include: garbage collection, snow removal on local streets, residential tax issues, bylaws, policy making, and projects within the city. People often think healthcare, Highway 63 and education are their responsibility, but those issues fall under the mandate of the provincial and federal governments, and our local MLAs and MPs deal with those issues.

Of course, these lines have been crossed and clouded over the years – with the biggest example being Willow Square. The healthcare of our seniors is a provincial issue, but – over the last eight years – the Federal government, the provincial government and our local municipal government have all somehow been involved. It has made it all very confusing for everyone involved.

The council members sit on various boards that have municipal responsibilities, like the Regional Recreation Corporation (RRC), which deals with our recreation facilities like MacDonald Island and the new facilities in Fort Chipewyan and Anzac, the Advisory Committee on Aging, and the Communities in Bloom committee, to name a few. They also meet on other important committees that play huge roles in our local government, like the Budget and Audit Committee, the Rural Development committee and they meet with members of our administration team for briefings.

In the coming weeks, I hope to break down the roles of the administration team in our city, as people are often confused by their roles within our council. I will also start talking to these administrators, as well as, our Mayor and council about upcoming issues.

This will include discussion on some of the other roles that they have taken on since becoming our elected officials. The hope is that this column will put us more in touch with our local municipal government, since it is that government that has the biggest and quickest impact on the lives of all those living within the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

To share comments or concerns, please contact Verna Murphy at mackdale@hotmail.com.

– Connect Weekly –