Mirror - Gaining Political Commitment
The Hamlet of Mirror is governed by Lacombe County, which is located in Central Alberta. Lacombe County supplies water to the Hamlet, takes care of infrastructure maintenance, and general governance. As the community of Mirror established the Mirror Community Network, it was apparent that a partnership needed to be established with Lacombe County, as many of the facilities are owned by the County and operated by local organizations.
Key in establishing this connection was a member of the local community, who is a Councillor with Lacombe County. Her vision has been to elevate Mirror’s status within the County, but to have community enhancement begin at the community level and move upward.
The first step toward solidifying a partnership was meeting with Lacombe County leadership to provide information on the changes taken place with community collaboration. Arrangements were made by the Network Chair, and attended by the County CAO, Corporate Manager and FCSS Manager. At this meeting, an overview of the Mirror Community Network was provided, with a work plan and timeline for community initiatives. No request for help was put forward, it was simply for information to ensure that Lacombe County was aware of changes and positive strides within the community.
The next step was inviting County leaders to attend Mirror Community Network meetings via email and to provide intermittent updates. As the line of communication opened up, other opportunities also opened up in Mirror for funding. A seed grant was received and plans to enhance the outdoor parks began to roll forward. As Lacombe County leadership became more aware of the work and community spirit advancing, the communication opened even more, and within a short time, the Mirror Community Network was asked to apply for a County grant to further the seed money. The result of this conversation was a successful application to further the enhancement project.
Some key learnings from developing a municipal government partnership:
- Look for connected people: who is already engaged with government, or who has a connection that can be expanded on.
- Find a community champion that can speak on behalf of the community, who is passionate about comprehensive community wellness and can speak with proficiency.
- Know the language of leaders: changes that directly impact residents moving in will also impact tax base and other county related assets.
- Remember that Municipal leaders are people: they are approachable and have the interests of communities at heart.