Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Upcoming Activities

On Tuesday night (November 27th), mayor, council and CAO are heading to Calgary on a Northern Air charter to attend the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference and trade show (Wednesday to Friday) at the Telus Conference Centre, returning Saturday morning. Previous councils found that chartering a flight is the most cost-effective way (saving time and money) to get a group from Peace River to Calgary and back again.

I'll be attending a variety of sessions at the conference, including a day-long one for new councillors called "So I've Been Elected, Now What Do I Do?" It will be a good opportunity to meet other newcomers and also become acquainted with the AUMA's Elected Officials Training modules that are in development and scheduled for release in 2008. I've signed up for other sessions on Thursday and Friday but am not sure which ones I'll actually get to attend, so will save the descriptions until I'm back.

On December 10, I'll attend the Medical Student Training Symposium in Grande Prairie on behalf of Peace River Council. The symposium is "designed to bring community stakeholders and regional organizations together with the important purpose of helping to establish goals and direction to aid the Health Care Workforce Education Partnership Committee with its efforts to create capacity for medical student training in Northern Alberta."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Council Portfolio

I missed the council meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 13) due to a commitment in Edmonton for that week. At the meeting, the committees and boards on which we'll serve were decided and here is what I'll be doing, based on the draft minutes (to be confirmed on the 26th):
  • Aboriginal Interagency Committee (I have no details on the frequency of meetings, likely monthly)

  • Assessment Review Board (all councillors serve on this; it meets annually and makes decisions on complaints relating to all assessments other than linear assessments. Since I don't what what a linear assessment IS, I'll need to learn more about this)

  • Peace Country Health Community Health Council (the council provides advice to the Peace Country Health Board; facilitates two-way communication with the community; acts as a forum for public input on health needs; and promotes awareness of health resources, programs and services)

  • East Peace Landfill Authority (alternate for Jim Hancock, Don Good and Neil Martin)

  • Health & Safety/Risk Management Committee (meets monthly to discuss health and safety issues of the Town)

  • Intermunicipal Mutual Aid Committee (meets as necessary to discuss proposed projects, etc.)

  • Land of the Mighty Peace Tourist Association (alternate for Wanda Laurin)

  • Peace River Centennial Museum Board (alternate for Neil Martin)

  • Peace River Municipal Library Board (meets monthly)

  • Subdivision & Development Appeal Committee (meets as necessary to hear appeals relating to subdivision and/or development application decisions)

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Workshop: Relationships, Roles & Responsibilities for Council, Councillors & Administrators

On Friday, November 2, our mayor, Iris Callioux, and the four new councillors (Jim Hancock, Wanda Laurin, Berry Heinen, and myself) attended an all-day workshop hosted by the Town of Grimshaw and presented by Alberta Municipal Affairs & Housing. Councillors and administrators from Grimshaw and the MD of Peace (#135) were also in attendance.

Through lectures and activities, we were educated about a wide variety of topics and reviewed relevant sections of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) (available online at:

It was interesting to learn that a municipality is a corporation with the same powers as a "natural person," except where those powers are limited by the MGA or other legislation. What these "natural person" powers do is give councils flexibility in how the municipality is organized and administered, what services are provided, and the delivery of those services.

We looked at the roles and responsibilities of councillors (section 153 of the MGA), of which there are many! The Chief Elected Official (CEO), who is called a mayor or reeve, has duties in addition to those of a councillor, and those were reviewed as well.

There was considerable time spent on the concept of "pecuniary interest," which is what most people think of as conflict of interest (section 170). The MGA sets out the procedure we need to follow if we have a pecuniary interest in an item that comes up at a meeting, and we did an exercise to give us practice in distinguishing situations where a person would need to exclude him/herself from discussion and decision-making.

The MGA describes pecuniary interest as something that could monetarily affect the councillor, his/her spouse, adult interdependent partners or children, the councillor's or councillor's spouse's/adult interdependent partner's parents, or a business that employs the councillor or one in which the councillor has an interest.

We found out how a councillor can be disqualified (section 174 of the MGA), for instance, by not voting at meetings, by missing all council meetings in an 8-week period, or by being convicted or an offense punishable for five or more years. These are just some of the ways to be disqualified.

Council decision-making processes were discussed in some detail, as were the procedures used at meetings, agenda formats, minutes, etc.

It was a day well-spent in meeting councillors from other municipalities, spending time with members of Peace River Town Council, and in learning a great deal about our new roles and responsibilities. Many thanks to the Town of Grimshaw for scheduling this session and inviting us to participate.

When we attend the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) conference in Calgary at the end of the month (November 28-30), we'll have the opportunity to spend another day on orientation activities for new councillors, which should reinforce what we've already learned and perhaps also introduce new information. It will also be an excellent opportunity to meet new councillors from around the province. The full conference program is available at: