e-Brief December 19, 2019

President Jeff Renaud, the CAMA Board of Directors

and National Office Staff

would like to wish you Happy Holidays

and a wonderful 2020!

Recognizing the importance of political understanding in the role of senior municipal administrators, also referred to as political acumen, the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) launched a Political Acumen Toolkit.   This resource can be found at politicalacumen.camacam.ca

Over the next few editions of e-Brief (and by direct e-mail to you – our members) we will be featuring each topic that is offered in the toolkit. Today’s featured category is about rate payer and resident associations.

Many resident and ratepayer associations are created as a result of a difference of opinion regarding key issues, taxation, or financial accountability between those who govern and those who reside. If the direction a municipality is heading is fundamentally different from the values and beliefs of a significant group of residents in the community, a ratepayer’s association may be formed as an advocacy group to ensure those values and beliefs are maintained on a fiscal level within the community.

Remember, a municipality’s Administration and Council are there to serve its residents. If your municipality has a newly-formed ratepayer’s association, it may be a sign that you are heading in the wrong direction with the priorities set by your Council or the initiatives undertaken by Administration. That said, many ratepayer associations are longstanding and can provide valuable feedback to the municipal decision-making process.

Ratepayer associations should be taken seriously. It is crucial that the CAO and other senior staff take the time to understand the values and concerns of the association and listen to what they have to offer to the policymaking process. It is equally important to take note of their requests and do what you can to achieve their goals without jeopardizing the strategic direction of the municipality. If a ratepayer association’s goals are met, they may no longer have a cause to pursue and are more likely to lose steam or even disappear. CAOs who can address these situations positively and successfully without Council intervention show a high level of political acuity.

When a ratepayer or resident association of any kind is created and begins to advance an agenda that is different from what Council has adopted, always try to obtain a listing of who is part of the committee. It may be that they represent only a few people and are trying to create chaos within the community. Conversely, they may have a membership of hundreds of people, making their issues and concerns more legitimate. CAO’s can be thrust into very awkward situations if they make incorrect assumptions. Be sure to do your homework and get to know who these groups represent before assessing how best to respond to their issues and concerns. If you find yourself in an adversarial position with the association, always keep to the facts, remain impartial, and treat their representatives fairly and respectfully. Remember, body language speaks volumes, even if you do not say much.

Best Practice: Always do your homework with ratepayer and resident associations. Find out who they represent and what their agenda is before deciding how to respond to their concerns.
Remember: Always act reasonably and respectfully toward representatives from ratepayer and resident associations, even if discussions become antagonistic.

Case Studies
 Also, don’t forget to share some of your political acumen with your colleagues and sign up for CAMA’s Mentorship Forum which is available to all members at mentorship.camacam.ca. Sign up as a mentor, a mentee or just to network.

Tip for Mentor-Mentee Relationships:
Know when to move on: It is common to have multiple mentor-mentee relationships throughout your career. Indeed, it is part of the natural evolution of a mentorship relationship for it to end or evolve into something new (friendship, colleagues, etc.) when the original goals are met. Either party can be the one to signal this transition when the time has come. It is also beneficial to the mentee to develop a network and find different advisors with a wide range of perspectives, skill sets, and experiences to further build their toolbox.

Do you have questions? Want more information?  Contact Jennifer Goodine, Executive Director, CAMA National Office, 1-866-771-2262, [email protected].

Using Technology To Expand Municipal Capacity
Transparency in politics has become a hot-button topic, especially over the last five years. Government mistrust is at a peak and people are demanding answers and access to information. Voters calling for transparency was witnessed in this past Federal election of a minority government. Federal and Provincial politics are having an influence on how municipalities operate. Most municipalities are the principle point of contact for the average citizen which forces them to adapt faster than what’s been happening at the provincial or national level.

The Government of Canada is committed to being an open government, which they believe can be achieved through three streams: open data, open information, and open dialogue. The goals being to empower citizens, fight corruption, and strengthen technology, which helps overall governance. Providing citizens with these three streams will allow government to create trust and accountability. Once data is openly available, citizens will be informed and educated. With the rise and access of new technologies, governments can combat these problems and secure public confidence. It’s the governments responsibility to enable technology to combat these concerns.

At the local level, many municipalities are adhering to these three streams far better than their national counterparts. They are posting their bylaws, procedures, meeting minutes and agendas online, so their constituents are informed and up to date. In fact, some municipalities are going as far as taping council meetings so there’s full disclosure and little room for mistrust.
ALBERTA MEMBERS: Creating community capacity to address dementia
The Government of Alberta is taking action to help create communities where people with dementia are valued and supported.  Under the Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan, new resources and supports will increase the quality of life for those living with dementia throughout the province.  The new resource is available to help build community capacity to meet the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers.  The guide will enable more communities to launch these initiatives.  The Guide to Create Dementia Friendly Communities in Alberta is available online at dementiafriendlyalberta.ca.

  • Eleanor Mohammed, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, City of Beaumont, AB
  • Chris Spear, Chief Administrative Officer, Town of Saint Andrews, NB
  • Kimberley Young, Chief Administrative Officer, Municipality of Resolute Bay, NU
  • Daryl Skworchinski, CAO/Clerk/Director of Economic Development, Town of Marathon, ON
  • Laura Kennedy, City Clerk/Returning Officer, Chief Information and Privacy Officer/Director and Quasi Judicial Board Clerk, City of Calgary, AB
  • Tanner Evans, Chief Administrative Officer, Sylvan Summer Village, AB
Do you have a story for our next issue?
Let us know by contacting [email protected]
CAMA e-Brief is published every two weeks. Watch for the next issue on: The week of January 6, 2020
To view the last CAMA e-Brief, visit: http://www.camacam.ca/archive
Job Scene is distributed every week. The Next issue will appear on: December 23, 2020
To view the latest Jobs go to: http://www.camacam.ca/jobs
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CAMA is a non-profit association open to all senior managers dedicated to improving municipalities in Canada.
Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators
PO Box 128, Station A
Fredericton, NB E3B 4Y2