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Premiers vow to modernize Charter

By September 21, 2022No Comments
Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers, centre, shakes hands with Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe after doing the same with Alberta Premier Jason Kenney following the signing of a letter of intent to the mayor to complete the modernization of the city’s Charter. The signing took place during the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show on Sept. 14. Geoff Lee Meridian Source

 

The City of Lloydminster is celebrating the signing of a letter of intent from the provinces of Saskatchewan and Alberta to complete overdue updates to the city’s Charter.

Both provinces have been working with the city since 2012 to align and modernize the Charter to reflect municipal legislative changes that affect the way the city operates.

“We’re excited because as we discuss in council, sometimes the provincial laws change in one province and we are sometimes exempt, which can sometimes be good, but sometimes bad,” said Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers.

He says the city wants to keep the Charter as current as possible.

“If something exempts us from the charter, we want to make sure it’s current so we’re eligible for those government grants and programs that might exist in one province or the other,” explained Aalbers.

The mayor noted the city has no control when the Charter is updated since it’s a legislated act in the bordering provinces and those governments do the updates.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and his Alberta counterpart Jason Kenney met with Aalbers and city council at the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show on Sept. 14 to endorse their commitment to get the work done as quickly as possible.

“I’ve pestered the premiers often about making sure we’re not forgotten here in Lloydminster,” said Aalbers.

“Their visit was very key to our city and I very much appreciated they could make it here together.”

The Saskatchewan government held a cabinet meeting that morning at the oil show with Kenney revealing he and premier Moe had intended to hold a joint cabinet session at one point.

“I hope that will happen at some point in the future,” he said.

Kenney put bi-provincial issues into historical context, noting he doesn’t think his or Moe’s provincial predecessors realized when they marked the border here in 1905, the city would grow up on both sides of it.

“Our governments over the past 117 years have tried to work creatively with the local community to ensure seamless access to services and to address all of the complexities of running a bi-provincial city,” said Kenney.

He says there is a need to modernize the statutory arrangement around the Lloydminster Charter.

“We want to give the people of Lloydminster our firm commitment to address some of the sticky issues you have as you try to navigate the complexity of two different provincial governments by renewing the charter,” said Kenney.

Aalbers told both premiers the city has example after example where there are border challenges with the free trade of goods and services.

“We appreciate both of your governments trying to resolve the challenges, whether they be federal or provincial challenges like alcohol trading and crossing the border from that perspective,” said Aalbers.

Current proposed changes will also make it easy for the city to create collaborative frameworks with other municipalities, clarify regulations for urban planning and the operation of waterworks across the city and cut red tape.

The goal of the provinces is to complete the updates by the end of the year.

Moe said it was a great day to come to celebrate the energy industry at the oil show and reduce barriers for service rigs operating on both sides of the border.

“For us, it’s up to the respective government of Saskatchewan and Alberta to recognize some of the nuances and the challenges that we have operating on both sides of the border in that industry,” said Moe.

Earlier in the day, he and Kenney signed a copy of the recent federal approval of regulatory changes both provinces wanted, which no longer identifies service rigs as transport trucks, so there is no need for printed or electronic logs.

The approval follows a bi-provincial Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2019 to harmonize service rig movements between the two provinces by cutting red tape without compromising safety.

Moe says now that they have harmonization for rigs, the plan is for both provinces to commit to ensuring they can, as seamlessly as possible, provide the city with the best opportunities for education, policing and health care with the completion of Charter updates.

“Saskatchewan is very far along in the discussions that mayor Aalbers has been bringing up for a number of years and brings up at every single opportunity he has with myself and with anyone in the Government of Saskatchewan,” said Moe.

“I would say to Mayor Aalbers and your council, thank you for your persistence in ensuring we get to this today, which ultimately is a better place for folks in Lloydminster.”

He added the signing also advances the relationship between the provinces “which is pretty close already.”