Mayor thrilled with creation of oversight body
In a move meant to end over 50 years of municipal shouting matches, the province announced yesterday the creation of a regional board that will oversee major projects in the Edmonton area.
"I don’t expect everyone to agree with every detail of this plan, but we’ve been debating this for decades and we no longer have the luxury of debate," Premier Ed Stelmach said in revealing the plan. "We need action."
The premier’s decision accepts nearly all of the proposals from a government report that wanted to coordinate planning among the 25 municipalities within the capital region.
The regional board will have sweeping powers over land-use issues, including transit systems and infrastructure decisions that impact surrounding areas.
Mayor Stephen Mandel, who had been pushing for a regional model during his reelection campaign, told reporters that it was a historic decision.
"I’m absolutely elated. If there’s anything I wanted to accomplish during my time as mayor, it was regional co-operation," he said.
For a motion to pass, 17 out of the 25 municipalities comprising 75 per cent of the region’s population must be in agreement.
That technically gives Edmonton veto power since it holds the vast majority of the population, allowing the city to play 16 of the 25 municipalities off of each other to form alliances.
But the premier doesn’t expect the model to cause any animosity or create an impasse.
"You may want to use the veto power but at the same time, as the city of Edmonton, you have to find 16 friends to support an idea," Stelmach said.