Regional Cooperation Not Amalgamation

There has been a lot of talk the last while about annexation. While this remains a possibility, I don’t think it’s necessary. Annexation and amalgamation don’t always work. A 2004 study evaluated the merger of 27 municipalities in Montreal two years earlier. In an exercise that was supposed to reduce administration and create economies of scale, it saw the opposite effect. In fact, administration costs went up, as did taxes. Property values dropped. Goodwill disappeared.

In 2007, the City-Region Studies Centre at the University of Alberta released a report that studied regional governance models in twelve cities around the world. The cities studied were similar in demographics to the Alberta Capital Region. Here is a sample of what was found.

There were a diverse range of governance structures. Some of them were federally or state mandated. Others were run voluntarily with little or no outside support. Typically they offered shared services or joint planning.

But what was clear in the report is that it wasn’t the model that mattered. It wasn’t the governance, the structure or the voting system that made a difference. The report states “… it is the underlying culture – the personal and corporate interrelationships, the motivations, the value systems – that requires attention.”

We need to get to a level of trust where everyone is working for the benefit of the Capital Region. With the right people, cooperation and collaboration are not only achievable, but ideal. Each municipality brings strengths and assets to the table. Strathcona County needs to get back to being a leader in building that trust once again.

— Roxanne Carr

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