Grande Cache in Alberta, which touts itself as a mountain oasis surrounded by spectacular wilderness, has announced its intention to dissolve as an official municipality and fold into the surrounding Municipal District of Greenview.
The reason for this decision is primarily sited because of the economic downturn in Alberta. Mayor Herb Castle noted that, “it’s not financially viable going into the future.”
This isn’t an uncommon practice in Alberta. Since 2001, residents in 13 communities across Alberta have decided to become part of their surrounding municipality. Two communities made the move in 2017, the Village of Botha dissolved into the County of Stettler, and the Village of Willingdon dissolved into the County of Two Hills.
What does this mean for communications?
Firstly, there will need to be extensive joint coordination between the two municipalities in order to ensure a smooth transition for residents. Secondly, communications with staff will be ongoing as you deal with layoffs, position changes, hours, policies, etc. You’ll also need to consider how you’ll manage the change in governance. A look at an extensive change management strategy with stakeholder engagement is likely the best approach when considering how you’ll help the public and stakeholders adjust to service changes, new governing relationships (Mayor and Council), policy and bylaw changes, bill payments, and even tax levy changes.
It’s important to remember that your number one priority is your public and stakeholder satisfaction.