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No surprises in provincial budget: Mayor Clayton

Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton says nothing caught her by surprise when it came to the 2021 provincial budget. The highlight, in her view, would be the confirmed cuts to municipal funding.

Clayton says the effects of the cuts to the Municipal Sustainability Initiative, approximately 25 per cent of total funding available to municipalities over the next three years, while significant, have been mitigated by what she called good planning at a local level.

“We’ve been told for a couple of years to expect a reduction and we planned accordingly, so I think that we are in a good position. Do we like that it is less money? Mo, but the reality is our province is in this situation and people need to be prepared.”

“The city was offered an additional $14 million in support through federal and provincial funding this year, so we were able to put ahead some capital projects.”

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She adds the funding helped the city create its largest capital plan to date, and it’s something Clayton believes is creating jobs, helping to get some people back to work, and creating economic activity.

Recall Legislation

Mayor Clayton is also in favour of the proposed recall legislation but believes the province must avoid creating blanket legislation without taking into account regional government layout. The legislation, introduced by UCP House Leader Jason Nixon, will allow the public to potentially recall not only municipal politicians, but MLAs and even school board trustees.

“The process has to be done right… it needs to work for the people and a realistic approach,” she says. “There is a petition threshold that will prompt for recalls that will be different for each municipality, it can’t be the same for every sized municipality.”

Clayton adds that it’s difficult enough to get people to run for municipal politics, and worries that a recall system that isn’t properly planned out could make the process even more of a challenge.

“If you had a position that was acclaimed in a small community, and the community didn’t think that specific politician was doing a great job… they make the appropriate numbers and get that individual recalled, then what does the municipality do for that position. We have circumstances in some of our rurals’ in this region where there are empty seats.”

The legislation is expected to be tabled and voted on in the spring siting of the Alberta Legislature.

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