St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron will serve as executive member of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) once again.
During AUMA’s annual convention in Edmonton last week, Heron was acclaimed as vice-president of the association for cities up to 500,000 people, as well as director.
“It’s interesting how when you serve on a board, when you first run, you don’t know what it’s all about. I’ve been there four years now and I love it,” Heron said. “I was really nervous I would have to run and there was a threat that I might not be able to serve again, so I’m overjoyed.”
The AUMA represents hundreds of municipalities across the province, and advocates to other levels of government on issues relevant to its members.
Heron said her work with AUMA benefits residents of St. Albert because of the access it provides her to the provincial government and said she has been meeting “non-stop” over the past couple of months with Alberta ministers.
She added a lot of the issues AUMA is advocating for – including sustainable funding models for municipalities, recycling improvements and policy equity in funding – are issues that impact St. Albertans.
“All those things affect St. Albert, so the advantage for St. Albert is the mayor gets to sit and talk to the ministers,” Heron said. “I think they see me as a board rep for AUMA representing all of Alberta, but at the same time I can talk about the specifics of St. Albert as well.”
During the convention, AUMA’s board of directors does a “priority setting” for the year, and Heron said the top three for the 2019 to 2020 year include a replacement for the Municipal Sustainability Initiative – set to expire in 2021-22 – police funding and federal infrastructure funding.
On a personal level, Heron said she is always more engaged with environmental issues, such as recycling regulations. On that note, Minister of Environment Jason Nixon spoke at the convention on recycling and as a result Heron said she is “confident” an extended producer responsibility– which makes producers responsible for the waste their products create – will be advanced this term.
Alberta is one of the only provinces in the country that does not require big manufacturers to help shoulder the burden of disposal.
The United Conservative Party is also considering lifting a tax exemption for cannabis growers that Heron said members have been calling for, Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu announced at the convention on Thursday.
“A big indoor greenhouse is very different from an outdoor wheat field, so I don’t think it should be classified as agriculture. It should be assessed as industrial and pay accordingly,” Heron said.
Overall, she said she heard the convention was the best one ever with the highest attendance.
“I think everyone really thought it was a worthwhile convention to attend,” Heron said.