As we all know, 2020 has been a year filled with unexpected challenges, especially for Albertans. Amid all of the struggles that we have faced, Alberta’s government is still taking steps to address the issues that constituents care about.
Alberta’s government has launched several new tools lately that will increase accountability and transparency, reduce red tape and make life easier for Albertans. On Dec. 1, our government launched a new Surface Rights E-Filing Portal, allowing landowners to apply for rental recovery on oil wells online, speeding up the process to receive owed rentals and saving time for landowners and board staff.
With the online portal, board staff can spend more of their time answering landowners’ questions and less time processing simple applications. The new portal eliminates red tape and simplifies many steps of the application through the user-friendly interface.
Landowners can register for an online account and submit their applications and supporting documents without leaving the comfort of their homes. As an added bonus, process changes now allow landowners to apply without appearing before a commissioner of oaths, saving more time and money.
Future upgrades to the portal will allow applicants to track the status of their applications and receive an automatic acknowledgement of their submissions, further simplifying the process.
However, we do know some residents still prefer mail, which is why the Board will continue to accept applications by regular mail, fax, or in-person.
Alberta’s government has also launched the Municipal Measurement Index (MMI) and the Financial Indicator Graphs (FIG).
The MMI, or as Premier Jason Kenney likes to call it, the ‘Fiscal Report Card,’ has been developed to respond to our 2019 platform commitment to provide a tool that allows Albertans to compare municipalities on certain key metrics. The MMI will allow everyday people to explore and compare financial and statistical data for all of Alberta’s 338 municipalities, which are indexed according to population, geographic size and equalized assessment. These rankings can be used to determine how communities with similar demographic and financial realities compare with each other.
The MMI will allow Albertans to see a municipality’s marks on property tax rates, major revenue and expense categories, and even equalized assessment values and debt values all in the same place. Having a simple tool to access this information will allow for increased accountability and transparency, while highlighting the effectiveness of good governance.
Whereas the MMI serves as a comparison tool, the FIG will show municipal performance trends over time for similar indicators, demonstrating progress made on important metrics.
I understand our municipalities may be concerned about the MMI and the FIG, but I want to make it clear that the financial and statistical information collected from Alberta municipalities is freely available through the Government of Alberta Open Data Portal already. The MMI and FIG simply allow for a one-stop shop on all the financial information and puts it in a simple and interactive format.
These two metric tools will mean both elected officials and their constituents will have the information they need to make the best decisions for their communities going forward.
It is my hope that these new resources will relieve stress on my constituents during these tough times.
As always, it is an honour to serve as your MLA.