Alberta’s new municipal affairs minister says he wants to transform the relationship between the province and its two major cities as he takes over the portfolio.
Ken Hughes said on the Calgary Eyeopener on Thursday that he will make it a priority to hammer out a new city charter for Edmonton and Calgary.
The province agreed in principle last year to negotiate on the charter, which could give Alberta’s two major cities more power to raise revenue to pay for services.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has clashed with Hughes’ predecessor Doug Griffiths several times over the proposed charter and other matters.
Hughes said he will work on improving the ministry’s relationship with Nenshi.
'We've got a big conversation to have and we're going to have it in a very respectful way.' - Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes
"I think we've already started in quite a different way. First of all, the mayor and I have known each other and have, I think, a lot of mutual respect for each other,” Hughes said.
Nenshi met with Ken Hughes Thursday over chicken wings to talk about the big issues facing the city.
"The first is determining how we are moving together forward on the big city charters for Calgary and Edmonton and the second is making a final decision on the fate of the Calgary Regional Partnership and the Calgary Metropolitan Plan that's been sitting on the minister's desk from before I was mayor," said Nenshi.
Nenshi says he wasn't looking for commitments today but did want to lay out some groundwork with Hughes.
The Municipal Government Act, which spells out how towns and cities interact with provincial government, is long overdue for changes to reflect the size and importance of Calgary and Edmonton, Hughes said.
"It's starting from a basis of finding a way to create a charter and a way to recognize the important role for these two great cities,” he said.
"Actually a lot of provincial services and funding is delivered through cities so, you know, we've got a big conversation to have and we're going to have it in a very respectful way."