Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board to meet for first time since elections

The Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board (EMRB) will usher in six new mayors on Dec. 9 at its first official meeting since the municipal elections earlier this fall.

Beaumont's Bill Daneluik, Devon's Jeff Craddock, Morinville's Simon Boersma, Parkland County's Allan Gamble, Spruce Grove's Jeff Acker, and Edmonton's Amarjeet Sohi will join seven incumbent mayors who were re-elected in their respective municipalities.

"Newly elected mayors bring fresh perspectives and help the group consider new opportunities," St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron told Taproot. "I think a healthy mix of returning members and newly elected members will enable us to identify the best possible course of action for the EMRB." She pointed to the development of the board's new strategic plan in 2022 as an opportunity for the group to set a common path forward.

The board, which is made up of mayors from Edmonton and the 12 largest municipalities in the area, is a driving force for regional collaboration.

"Our work will continue to tackle complex issues that no single municipality can undertake on its own," said William Choy, mayor of Stony Plain and chair of the EMRB in the previous term. "Our region had over 100 years to plan for the first million residents, but we know the region has 30 years, maybe less, to plan for the next one million people and 450,000 jobs that we will attract and create."

One of the first items the board will tackle is a mandated five-year interim review of the region's growth plan. The review will take place over the next 18 to 24 months, using updated census data and projections to assess how the region is faring in its aim to ensure sustainable growth.

Choy added that while it's too soon to determine specific areas where the EMRB should focus, "it will be important for this board to take stock of where the region stands, consider the work that has been achieved to date, and what we will collectively want to advance as priorities."

Minister Ric McIver speaks at a podium beside a slide reading "Welcome to the EMRB"

The board met in November for an onboarding session where provincial Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver welcomed the incoming members. (Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board/Twitter)

Heron, who was recently elected president of Alberta Municipalities, would like to see more action across the region to support those most in need, including addressing affordable housing and chronic houselessness.

"These issues do not start and stop at municipal boundaries, and are better solved when we work together as a region to address them," she said. "We have the mechanisms at our disposal to problem-solve these issues through the EMRB and intermunicipally."

Meanwhile, new board member Jeff Craddock anticipates a guarded start, but said he hopes to be "part of a true regional partnership where all stakeholders benefit."

The board will also need to appoint a chair. The agenda indicates it will be considering a recommendation that Choy continue in the role. At the same meeting, mayors will be appointed to the governance and human resources committee, audit and finance committee, and metropolitan region servicing plan (MRSP) standing committee.

As the EMRB gets to work after its first meeting, both Heron and Choy hope to instill the importance of collaboration among board members.

"How we work together as a region sends a message to businesses and residents about what type of region we're building for the future, and how we see ourselves interfacing in this global environment," Heron said.

The meeting will be be streamed live and recorded.