Watch above: After Edmonton’s mayor asked the province to stop treating cities like children, Don Iveson says his statements did as he had hoped. Fletcher Kent explains.
EDMONTON — One day after Mayor Don Iveson said the provincial government needs to step up and quit treating Alberta cities like children, the three candidates vying for Alberta’s top job are speaking out.
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On Wednesday, the mayors of Alberta’s two largest cities came out with strong words, calling on the province’s next leader to set a clear policy when it comes to dealing with big city issues.
“It’s kind of like when a parent realizes that their son or daughter has grown up and is also an adult and that they can have a grown up conversation with them. It still sort of feels like the provincial government looks at us like we’re their children,” Iveson said Wednesday.
“It’s time the provincial government come to the table and have a grown up conversation about some of these challenges that stand in the way of Edmonton’s long-term success.”
Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi agrees, blasting all three candidates for what he calls their lack of vision.
“While they commit to working with municipalities to move forward, they are incredibly light on actual policy recommendations. And I must say I’m surprised by this,” Nenshi said Wednesday.
“It’s interesting that the Official Opposition has much more specific policy suggestions on municipalities than the person who might be premier.”
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Nenshi says he met with all three candidates in July. Iveson says he’s met with both Lukaszuk and McIver, but has yet to sit down with Prentice to discuss issues such as funding for infrastructure, big city policing and poverty elimination.
“I can’t tell whether it’s that they want to do it and they just can’t get organized to do it because of all of the other kerfuffle over at the legislature in the last year, or whether they really cannot understand the challenges that go into leading a big city,” said Iveson.
On Thursday, Alberta PC leadership candidates Jim Prentice, Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver responded to the comments. All agree the mayors are right, and there needs to be a clear partnership.
“I’m delighted to sit down with Mayor Iveson and Mayor Nenshi,” said Prentice. “They need a new partnership with the provincial government. I’ve been very clear in essentially every speech I’ve given that they need exactly that. These are two vibrant, confident, great cities — the envy of North America — and they need a partnership with the provincial government.”
Lukaszuk says a partnership is needed not just with Edmonton and Calgary, but with other large cities in Alberta.
“Those should be discussions in partnership not as levels of government, but more as orders of government working side by side.”
McIver, a former Calgary city councillor, says he already knows the issues cities like Edmonton and Calgary face.
“I am actually the only one in the contest that has experience on a municipal council,” said McIver. “I have, really, a better appreciation than the other two candidates of the important municipal issues… They won’t have to train me on what’s important, I already speak the lingo. And I’ve made it really clear to both big city mayors that I will be available.”
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With more than half of Alberta’s population living in Edmonton and Calgary, Iveson says he’s encouraged by the comments from the candidates, but he’s still looking for more clarity when it comes to each government’s roles and responsibilities.
“It’s provoked that discussion which is exactly what it was intended to do.”
With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News.