Lacombe’s involvement with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association is a mutually beneficial relationship, officials say.
Mayor Steve Christie serves on the AUMA executive as a vice president and is also on the board of directors. There are a number of things that drew Christie to become part of the AUMA, he said, but on a most basic level, he finds the work enjoyable.
“It’s challenging but it’s a lot of fun,” said Christie.
Christie said being a part of AUMA is advantageous because it puts him in front of the Alberta government a lot more and helps him build relationships with MLAs and deputy ministers.
That way, when Christie needs to deal with these people as the mayor of Lacombe, those relationships already exist.
By the same token, those relationships also help to serve AUMA and work to better the larger communities of Central Alberta and the province as a whole.
AUMA members serve on a number of committees, both internal and external.
Some of those committees are provincial committees and Christie said that the AUMA has a very good relationship with the provincial government.
Information gathering and sharing is a big part of what AUMA does. Christie said that as AUMA represents so many of the municipalities within the province, and therefore such a high percentage of the population, it is easy for AUMA members to collect information and share it amongst themselves or relay it to higher levels of government.
Each year, the AUMA hosts a couple of events.
There is the annual conference, as well as a mayor’s caucus where mayors can network with communities of similar size and discuss their issues.
Municipalities of all sizes are represented in the AUMA.
Christie said there are members from summer villages, towns and cities. He added that even a few counties have joined the AUMA.
While the difference in size between municipalities represented in the AUMA may seem a problem when it comes to cohesion, Christie said it’s not.
This is because while the solution is not the same for every community, the problems often are.
“It’s easy when everybody is experiencing the same issue,” said Christie. “But we know that there is no ‘one size fits all solution’ for anything.”
Eighty per cent of the AUMA membership are from towns under the population of 5,000, said Christie.
He added that larger centres like Edmonton and Calgary represent the largest population base, but are only each one member in themselves.
Christie said this is something that board members need to keep in mind.
While something may work well for one municipality, it may not work at all for another and the goal of AUMA is to work to benefit all.
“Yes, it is a delicate balance.”
To Christie, the advantages of working with AUMA outweigh the disadvantages. He said it is easier to get things done when there is more than one entity working towards the same goal and the voice of a group carries more clout than a single municipality alone.
Christie said this is why AUMA works, because all the members have the same mentality.
“You are going in united.”
Christie serves as vice president of cities up to 500,000 on the AUMA executive committee.
The board of directors is made up of 15 elected officials who are from across Alberta.
Two for each of the large cities, three for villages, three for towns, three for mid-sized cities, one for summer villages and a president.
The executive committee is then made up of a president and one vice president from each of those categories.