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Alberta Municipalities putting up billboards criticizing bill that would give province more authority over them

The organization representing most Alberta towns and cities insists local leaders were not properly consulted by the UCP. #ableg #ABMunis

By Sean Amato

Alberta’s cities and towns are not backing down in their fight against the provincial government’s proposed legislation that would give it more authority over municipalities.

Alberta Municipalities, which represents 85 per cent of the province’s cities and towns, is planning billboards to attack Bill 20.

“Were you consulted on Bill 20?” a digital rendering of the proposed billboard reads.

The group’s website urges members and residents to contact their local MLA to address any concerns, and create awareness through social media posts.

Local leaders have been upset about the bill since it was announced last month by Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.

According to the province, the bill is intended to improve local government and trust. It would allow for the creation of political parties in Edmonton and Calgary, and give the province more control to overturn bylaws and unilaterally fire mayors and councillors.

RELATED: Alberta Municipalities calls on UCP to scrap ‘deeply flawed’ Bill 20

McIver would not comment on Alberta Municipalities’ claim it was not properly consulted.

“They can spend their members’ money the way they choose,” the municipal affairs minister said of the billboards.

Digital rendering of an Alberta Municipalities billboard that will go up. (Courtesy: Alberta Municipalities)

The Alberta government clawed back parts of the legislation last week following backlash – including putting guardrails on when mayors and councillors can be fired.

Edmonton’s mayor calls it “bad, bad legislation” that “no one wants.”

“I don’t know if you can make bad legislation any better,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “But if they go through with it, we’ll work with them to see if we can improve it.”

McIver said Tuesday he’s done making changes to Bill 20, even though he knows local leaders are still not happy.

The Alberta NDP insists the updated version would still allow Premier Danielle Smith to rewrite bylaws behind closed doors and punish councillors who speak out against the UCP.

“The amendments that they’re putting forward, for which we will have an hour to debate, do absolutely nothing to change the fundamental flaws embedded in this bill,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley.

WATCH: Bill 20 a power grab by province: Alberta Municipalities

ABmunis hopes a meeting with McIver and the premier next month allows the group to provide input on how the bill will be used.

“What do I expect to come of that meeting? I don’t know. We’ll see what they’re interested in, and we’ll talk about it,” McIver said.

The cabinet minister said he expected to make progress on Bill 20 Tuesday night. It’s projected to pass with a UCP majority by the end of the week.

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