Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ray Danyluk and Rural-Urban Issues

I am seeing some growing interest and serious concern being expressed over the rural-urban representation in the Stelmach Cabinet, especially with Edmonton having only one seat and Calgary with three seats.

This is being expressed as concern over the growth pressure and public infrastructure needs in the cities, not just Edmonton and Calgary, but the discussion always seems to start there. The tensions between midsized cities and towns and the surrounding regions is also a major urban-rural concern that is all over Alberta.

The new Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Ray Danyluk, will be seized with this set of challenges. I have worked with Ray Danyluk on some growth pressures and issues when he was Chair of the Northern Alberta Development Council. We also did some work with the Alberta Forest Products Association on the forest industry’s social license to operate and had plenty to do with Ray as NADC Chair.

I am very confident in his skills and impressed with his experience in retail politics and local government. I think he will be a star Minister in the Stelmach Cabinet and government.

I also know he will find ways to be sure the cities get to know the issues and concerns of rural people and how the relationship is one of interdependence and mutuality. Rural people have a familiarity with urban issues because they watch our television stations, listen to our radio stations and read our newspapers. They constantly visit and do business in the urban centres. On the other hand, the knowledge city folks have about the rural areas is abysmally low. This is a problem.

My buddy Les Brost and his business partner Jerome Martin have done some good work in this problem area. If you are interested in leaning more, start with reading this report they did. That is a start but don’t be afraid to learn more about rural Alberta issues and concerns. It will make for a stronger province the more we learn about each other.