Alberta has seen many changes in economy and expectations of what citizens want from their muncipal leaders. It has experienced both booms and recessions in the past decade.
The provincial cencus shows a growth of 10.6% from 2001 and to 2006. This is more than double the Canadian national rate of 5.2% for the same period. This growth has occurred in varying rates for the over 350 municipalities in Alberta.
Spending has increased quite dramatically to respond to the sheer growth and complexity of demands. Studies have confirmed that population growth has a positive impact on commercial growth in cities but negative impacts on things like police and fire costs per capita.
Spending on policing has increased by municipalities from 2000 to 2008 in Alberta from $373 to $705 million. Fire has experienced the same impact going from $236 to $456 million for the same period. These are increases of 89% and 93% respectively for the 8 year period. This is reflective of the kinds of pressures that are experienced as larger centres intensify.
In fact from 2000 to 2008, expenditures by all municipalities in Alberta have increased from 3.38 to 6.57 billion per year. This 94% increase can be attributed to a number of causes. Is there a shift of responsibility from various levels of government? Has the demand of citizens changed? Is the population intensification having an effect?
The thing that is for sure is that managing muncipalities has become much more challenging. The complexity of demands and costs requires a strategic approach.
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