Allard resignation disrupts efforts to mend city-province relations

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AUMA president and Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita said Allard did a good job of setting a positive tone with Alberta’s cities and towns.

But seeing news about Allard and five other UCP MLAs go on holiday outside the country has been “very difficult,” Morishita said.

“I’ve been going on Facebook Live, talking to people about what they can and can’t do, how they have to make more sacrifices, especially during this holiday season,” he said.

“They’re driving by their relatives’ place at 20 kilometres an hour because that’s all that’s allowed, but yet we see an inconsistent delivery of action.”

Coun. Ward Sutherland said Allard’s resignation is “the right decision given the circumstances,” but starting over with a new minister will be a setback.

Coun. Peter Demong said personal relationships with local elected officials are crucial for the municipal affairs minister. McIver will know his way around the issues as a former member of council himself, but Demong said uncertainty about a permanent replacement puts cities in a tough spot.

“To try to put somebody in on an interim basis … I’m not entirely sure how you build that trust and that relationship if you know immediately that that one’s probably going to be gone in three months.”

Morishita agreed with Demong that it’s a challenge to deal with uncertainty around how the province will handle the municipal file in the coming months — especially as cities cope with COVID-19.

“Without stability, it’s difficult to plan. And if you can’t plan, you can’t actually deal with (the pandemic),” he said. “That’s what we need in order to get through this — we need consistent political leadership, we need consistent direction.”

NDP MLA Sarah Hoffman said Monday that Albertans, including municipal officials, are feeling “disrespected” by the provincial government.

She said she also questions McIver’s judgment since he was the one designated to act as a substitute for Allard while she was away.

— With files from Sammy Hudes

Twitter: @meksmith

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