Edmonton

Mayors Don Iveson, Naheed Nenshi meet with cabinet

Mayors Naheed Nenshi and Don Iveson said increased collaboration between Edmonton and Calgary will help the two cities cope with reduced financial support from the province amid the ongoing financial slump.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi met with cabinet on Tuesday morning.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi met with Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee to discuss a number of issues. Affordable housing, transit, and the city charter were topics addressed with cabinet. 1:06

The mayors of Alberta's two biggest cities say Edmonton and Calgary should collaborate as a way to cope with dwindling financial support from the province amid the ongoing financial slump.

Both Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi are calling for new inter-city partnerships on housing, poverty reduction, policing, education and transit.

"What we asked for is collaboration, recognizing that the government's fiscal situation is what it is. We're sensitive to that,"  said Iveson. "We want to really help provincial dollars go further."

The comments come after Iveson and Nenshi met with Premier Rachel Notley and Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee at the Alberta legislature Tuesday morning.

"There's informal collaboration, there's piecemeal collaboration, but getting something robust and formal...is something we can build on." said Iveson.

Notley invited both mayors to meet the entire NDP cabinet when the trio met last November.

"This is the first time that anyone can remember that city mayors have been invited to speak to cabinet," said Nenshi. "It was really an honour for us."

A city charter, which would empower both cities to take over some matters which currently fall under provincial jurisdiction, was a major part of the discussion.  Critics have suggested a charter would raise taxes for residents in both cities.

However, Iveson said increased taxation powers for municipalities is not part of the plan and acknowledged that any tax hikes "are really not a good sell" in the current economy.

Nenshi and Iveson signed a framework agreement with the previous Progressive Conservative government in the fall of 2014.  Nenshi says some of the first legislative changes will be made over the next 12 to 18 months.

"We're certainly on a timeline to do that," Nenshi. "We're just at the beginning of phase three which is the questions about money."

Despite the need for clarification on the legislative changes for municipalities under the new scheme, Larivee said Tuesday's discussions focused on relationship-building.

"We look forward to each of the departments working with the mayors, in terms of their individual issues." said Larivee. "And that will include maybe different ways of financing certain arrangements."

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