Mayor Jeff Genung says amendments to Bill 20 are a step in the right direction but believes more discussions are necessary with municipal leaders.

Municipal Affairs minister Ric McIver introduced an amendment requiring the province to order an elector vote to determine whether councillors they pinpoint are removed from office.

How many votes are required for the province to recall a municipal official has not been set.

It also expands on the terms by which bylaws would be repealed by the Alberta cabinet.  The province would only intervene if a bylaw exceed the scope of the authority of municipalities as specified in the Municipal Government Act.

Mayor Genung, chair of the Alberta Mid-Sized Cities Mayors' Caucus (MCMC), and his executive meet with met with Municipal Affairs minister Ric McIver on May 21 before the amendments to the controversial bill were introduced.

"Personally, I think they're a step in the right direction," says Genung."I think we are always asking the question, what problem are you trying to solve and they've been a bit clearer on that."

"It is a change and we all respond to change and it's not generally in a good way, but once we understand the reasoning, then I think people will understand why. I'm not saying I'm fully supportive, but as municipal government, we do operation under the provincial government."

Genung says he has spoken to McIver four times since Bill 20 was introduced on Apr. 25, He says there are further changes that could be made to satisfy municipalities and that MCMC will be having further discussions with McIver about the bill. 

Late last week, McIver introduced the changes that he says were informed by feedback from municipalities.

Genung's reaction is mild compared to the frustration expressed by Paul McLauchlin, president of the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA).

McLauchlin questioned why the government bothered with the amendments, saying the powers it provides cabinet remain virtually unchanged.

"The amendments introduced add more words to Bill 20 but they don't change a whole lot else," says McLauchlin. "What these amendments show is that this government doesn't think much of local leaders in this province."

Alberta Municipalities expressed disappointment in the amendments and the extent of McIver's consultation with municipalities.

Bill 20 is seen by some as compounding the ill effects of other legislation introduced by the Danielle Smith government that allows them to interfere with the operation of our municipalities.

It aims to introduce local political parties to municipal elections by allowing for the registration of local political parties to endorse a candidate or slate of candidates. The affiliation of a candidate would appear next to their name on the ballot. They would not be affiliated with any provincial or federal political party. 

It is proposed to be piloted in Edmonton and Calgary.

Bill 18 provides the reigning party the authority to stick their nose into federal government funding awarded to municipalities. Premier Smith says the bill intends to push back against the federal government overstepping into provincial jurisdiction and federal government funding now requires provincial government clearance.