Ineffectiveness of FCM irks M.D. of Bonnyville

. . .but they won’t get any help from the Town of High to form new organization

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

A strongly-worded letter from the M.D. of Bonnyville regarding the ineffectiveness of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities [FCM] is being ignored by High Prairie town council.

The FCM is the national organization comprised of municipal governments, that advocates on their behalf. Their effectiveness has been questioned by many municipalities in the past, and has involved trips at the taxpayer’s expense to Quebec City and Halifax the last three years.

Bonnyville Reeve Greg Sawchuk wrote all local governments in the province with his council’s concerns.

“The past few years have presented convincing evidence of the continued lack of advocacy and blatant disregard at the federal level for Western Canada’s needs. . .” he wrote, specifically citing the energy industry.

He added Bonnyville’s council is “beyond frustrated” with the lack of effective representation by the FCM.

“We wish to be a part of a solution that supports [oil and gas] industry competitiveness rather than being forced to absorb Ontario’s and Quebec’s concepts of crippling changes that impact our municipal sustainability,” wrote Sawchuk.

He cited the most recent FCM conference held in Quebec City, which produced no “real results”.

Big Lakes County sent nearly the entire council plus staff to Quebec City. Despite requests from South Peace News asking for reports, none were provided. Quebec and Ontario continue to halt proposed pipeline projects that would benefit the energy industry.

High Prairie sent no one to the conference.

Sawchuk asked if anyone was interested in forming a Western Canadian Municipalities organization instead to lobby for concerns.

At town council’s meeting Feb. 9, Mayor Brian Panasiuk asked council the question.

“Is the FCM meeting our needs? “It’s a big country so it’s hard to meet everyone’s needs.”

Councillor Michael Long has attended past conferences.

“In my opinion, you only get what you put into it,” he said.

“We get lost in the noise. There are so many other big communities…”

However, if they don’t attend, Long added, there is certainly no voice.

“We need the FCM as lot more than the need us.”

Long also asked if a new or other organization would be better.

“No!”

Councillor Brian Gilroy was not totally convinced.

“We do need a strong voice. I’m not sure this is the way to do it.”

Council received the letter for information.

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