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AB and SK agree to modernize Lloydminster Charter before end of year

The mayor and city council of Lloydminster came in for commendations from the premiers of Alberta and Saskatchewan as both provinces have agreed to work on modernizing the Charter legislation that governs the bi-provincial city. The goal being that the Charter be finalized before the end of 2022.

Both premiers signed a letter of commitment at the Lloydminster Heavy Oil Show in the presence of the mayor, councillors and city staff.

Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe commended Mayor Gerald Aalbers whom he says “brings up at every single opportunity that he has” the issues pertinent to the well-being of the border city.

“I would say to mayor Aalbers and council, thank you not only for your patience as premier Kenney had mentioned, but thank you  for your persistence in ensuring that we get to this day which is ultimately a better place for folks in Lloydminster. And a better place for advancing the relationship between our two provinces, which is pretty close already.”

The commitment signed by the premiers indicates that an updated Charter for the city is important to reflect “updates to the Alberta Municipal Government Act, including changes to regulations for petitioning, financial administration, and council procedures.” Also, to align with “updates to Saskatchewan’s Cities Act, including code of conduct for councillors and employees, conflict of interest provisions, and transparency provisions.”

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The commitment is taking place as both provinces yesterday signed off on the exemption for the movement of service rigs across provincial borders. That development comes under the issue of “removing red tape and ensuring the free flow of goods and services.”

To amplify the issue on the movement of goods, councillor Jonathan Torresan brought a sandwich to the meeting which was purchased on the Alberta side of the border. The gathering for the signing was taking place at the Lloydminster Exhibition, which is on the Saskatchewan side of the city.

Alberta premier Jason Kenney quickly chimed in on the cross-border movement of the sandwich.

“If you sell that sandwich to me here and that was made in Alberta, you are breaking the law.” Kenney continued that issue also affects the movement of alcohol as he pointed out “the federal government has more exceptions under the Canada Free Trade Agreement than any of the 10 other provinces.”

“One of the things that frustrates both Scott and I is that a lot of the barriers to inter-provincial trade are outside of our control. It took us two-years; two-years to get them (the federal government) to sign off on a relatively small technical change for the service rigs regulations that provinces were pleading for.”

Mayor Gerald Aalbers in referring to what he termed was “sandwich-gate” said that the Lloydminster Chamber of Commerce was working through the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to get resolution on that matter.

The Lloydminster Charter commitment document is also looking at “updating legislative references for education property tax, and providing an option for a school board funding agreement between the provinces.” If this provision is approved, the move will utilize “Alberta’s Municipal Government Act property assessment and tax provisions, while maintaining unique provisions for Lloydminster.”

Aalbers in thanking the premiers for their commitment to modernizing the Charter commended their federal advocacy for the bi-provincial jurisdiction in “the challenges that exist.”

“We need to address those with your help. We will continue to lobby on our end. I know you continue to lobby federally. We do appreciate addressing the provincial red tape issues because it drives the economy which is so key to all of us.”

Other changes being proposed, according to the commitment letter are to foster easier collaborative frameworks with other municipalities, clarify regulations for urban planning and operation of waterworks across the city. Also, to “avoid the possibility of red tape by providing clear authority for agreements that are outside the Charter’s scope.”

A review clause is also proposed so all parties “can check in together on how well the Charter is supporting Lloydminster’s communities and businesses.”

Bi-provincial work on the Charter alignment has been ongoing since 2012.

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