The Community's Voice in the AMALGAMATION PROCESS
If you have picked up a newspaper or logged onto Facebook or Twitter over the past month you have probably seen articles or posts surrounding a potential Amalgamation between the Town and County of Barrhead. On September 9, 2014 Barrhead Town Council unanimously endorsed a motion to initiate an amalgamation with the County of Barrhead. In accordance with Section 102 of the Municipal Government Act, Council initiated the process of amalgamating the two municipalities in an effort to better serve the region in a more effective and efficient manner increasing accountability and sustainability of the Greater Community.
Over the past month, the Town and County Councils and Chief Administration Officers have formed an amalgamation committee that has been meeting to discuss the amalgamation process and to begin negotiations as outlined in the Municipal Government Act. Also outlined in the Municipal Government Act is the engagement and communication with all potentially impacted stakeholders throughout the process. As such, a communications consultant has been hired and will continue to provide updates and engage with stakeholders to ensure a transparent process. Communications and engagement will include both online and in person conversations. A Facebook page titled Barrhead Amalgamation and a Twitter account titled BarrheadAmalgamation have been set up to update and engage residents and is meant to be a balanced social community where residents from both the Town and County can discuss matters relating to a potential amalgamation. To follow, search Barrhead Amalgamation on Facebook or @BarrheadAmalgamation on Twitter and “like” or “follow” the page. In the Spring and over the next year there will be a minimum of two open houses for the public to discuss the amalgamation process, voice their questions or concerns in person and online and written surveys will be used to gather further information from all impacted stakeholders.
The next step in the Amalgamation process is a detailed study of a potential amalgamation by an external unbiased consulting firm. A request for proposals was posted on November 18th with all proposals due back for review by December 19th. This study will provide an independent analysis of the merits of an amalgamation by reviewing the current service levels, financials, structures and governance of both municipalities. Following the study, and ongoing facilitated negotiations of the committee, a final report will be submitted to the Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs. It is estimated that the entire process will take a minimum of one year. Once the Minister has this information, she will then make a decision on whether the Town and County of Barrhead should or should not amalgamate. This may or may not include a public plebiscite depending on the results of the engagement and the study.
Throughout the Amalgamation process, both Councils will continue to negotiate in good faith on all current matters.