Leslie Racz

Chestermere Case Study

 Chestermere, Alberta Case Study

September 24, 2012

Chestermere, Alberta became the launch municipality for the new Smart Towns Inc. Municipal Dashboard. The town has a 2012 population of 15,352 and was defined as the fastest growing municipality in Alberta between 2006 and 2010 in the most recent Canadian cencus. Chestermere annexed 2,691 hectares a few years ago that significantly increases the existing 823 hectares in the old town boundary. The Smart Towns Municipal Dashboard is a cornerstone for how future development will be planned and monitored for this rapidly growing community.

The Municipal Dashboard incorporated both the Public Perspective and the Internal Perspective (for a description go to http://smarttowns.ca ). The primary benefits of the dashboard to the town of Chestermere are:

  • Fourteen strengths were identified in the executive summary which were great causes to celebrate and communicate both within the organization and to the public.
  • The areas of focus identified in the executive summary provided opportunities for savings or revenue growth in the hundreds of thousands of dollars with adjusted future planning and additional consulting.

The municipal dashboard and executive summary were prepared into an hour long presentation that launched the most recent council and leadership retreat. This presentation set the tone and provided a backdrop for the rest of the retreat.

The updated Chestermere strategic plan was readjusted with the information from the Smart Towns Municipal Dashboard.

The upcoming 2013 budget will use the Smart Towns Municipal dashboard as a reference tool for decision making.

A document will be released in early November 2012, with additional consulting from Smart Towns, that identifies the net financial benefits or costs of various housing types and commercial types. The document will identify for example what assessment value a townhouse needs to be for it to be revenue neutral based on cost and tax factors from the Smart Towns Muncipal Dashboard. This will provide the economic input to the planning of the annexed lands.

The Municipal Dashboard celebration was first on the agenda of the recent Chestermere retreat that included all council and directors. Chestermere was able to draft an informed strategic plan by leveraging the successes and areas of focus in the municipal dashboard. They were able to compare their performance against 40 similar sized municipalities. One Councillor described the results as “eye opening” while another found it “valuable information that I can express to the public”. A Director said, “to be able to compare with other municipalities is good when trying to come up with a strategy moving forward”. There was a positive energy after the presentation. The feedback provided described the presentation as “highly engaging”, “informative”, “relative and relatable” and “useful”. Chestermere is now poised to be a leading municipality …. first of its kind in Canada.

For further information contact John McCall at jmccall@smarttowns.ca or 403.454.1268


The Changing Face of Alberta Municipalities

The changing face of Alberta municipalities.

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.

For assistance in understanding all perspectives of your municipality, contact jmccall@smarttowns.ca .