Dear Residents & Ratepayers,
Viable and thriving communities rely on responsive representation in local government. Resident and ratepayer interest in the affairs of a municipal corporation allow an elected council to better understand the needs of the community, as well as the challenges faced by individuals. It is individuals reaching out and contacting their elected council, sharing perspective that might not otherwise be known, that can make a difference. To this end, as the municipal councillor for Division 6, please contact me about municipal business or community matters where you believe local government has a role to play.
A municipal corporation is a unique creature of the Province of Alberta. It exists to fulfill the purposes set out in legislation (s.3, Municipal Government Act) and they are the following:
- to provide good government; to foster the well-being of the environment;
- to provide services, facilities or other things, that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality;
- to develop and maintain safe and viable communities, and;
- to work collaboratively with neighboring municipalities to plan, deliver and fund inter-municipal services.
I share these purposes with you so that you know what you can expect from municipal government. Together, I hope we can realize economic development and community growth for our region with transparent corporate governance, high-quality and cost-effective service delivery, as well as inter-municipal collaboration with the town and five villages.
Every fiscal year begins for the County with the review and development of an interim operating budget before the end of the prior year. All councillors get a binder detailing every department and inter-municipal service where there are financial implications for the County. As a council, we spent three days in November working through this binder and hearing presentations from various department heads and organizations that receive funding (In some years, I am told this process can take as many as five days.). The operating and capital budgets for the County will be finalized by the end March and beginning of April, once a final determination of expected revenues and expenditures can be made; property assessments for the prior year need to be finalized by our assessors at the end of February.
In October of every year, the County Council has an Organizational Meeting where the Reeve and Deputy Reeve are elected by Council. At this meeting, representative appointments are made, regular meeting days are agreed upon, and banking and signing authorities are established. I have been appointed to the following boards and committees:
- the Oldman River Regional Services Commission Board,
- the Twin Valley Regional Water Commission Board,
- the Champion Recreation Board,
- the Vulcan and District Recreation Board,
- the Regional Assessment Review Board,
- the Chinook Subdivision Development Appeal Board,
- the Reservoir Communities Committee,
- and the Vulcan County Audit Committee.
There are multiple appointments where I sit as the alternate, if necessary. While this seems like a lot, the most active appointments have been the Oldman River Regional Services Commission and the Twin Valley Water Commission. The remaining appointments are once or twice a year. Other councillors are equally busy, as a quick review of the Organizational Meeting minutes makes clear.
Shortly after joining County Council, on the first Monday in November, I attended a meeting with the Lake McGregor Country Estates Community Association, hearing some of the challenges that they are facing. On the first Monday in December, I was able to attend the regular council meeting of the Village of Champion as a delegation. Given that the Village of Champion is within Division 6, I thought it was important that I introduce myself to their full Council and express my hope that we can work cooperatively for the benefit of the Champion Community. They are a dynamic group of municipal leaders and it will be a pleasure to serve with them as we share a term of office.
On February 15th, the County Council met with the Town of Vulcan Council to discuss recreation funding. It was a good discussion, however, negotiating the details of a workable arrangement has been referred to committee. This committee will be meeting in March and will report back to the councils shortly thereafter.
For those interested, the agenda packages of County Council Meetings are publicly available on the Monday immediately preceding a Wednesday meeting. Council meetings can also be watched virtually from the website.
Sincerely, Christopher Northcott