The Summer Villages of Birchcliff, Half Moon Bay, Jarvis Bay, Norglenwold and Sunbreaker Cover recently celebrated 25 years of shared administration.
The event, which saw MLA Don McIntyre, the Mayor and Council of Sylvan Lake and representatives from Lacombe County, Bentley and Eckville attend, also coincided with the recent announcement of the Summer Villages being awarded the Ministers Award for Municipal Excellence.
Summer Village Administrator Phyllis Forsyth was pleased with the 25th anniversary celebration.
“We, the five Summer Villages, have worked very well collaboratively and to celebrate the milestone – we invited the neighboring Councils, Mayors and CAOS to get together and to celebrate the collaboration both between ourselves and them as well,” she said. “It was a great networking event for political entities from all over including the MLA, Bentley, Eckville, Lacombe County and Sylvan Lake”
She added “we had a great meal, some cake and some short speeches – it was a great visit.”
As the Summer Villages has grown, as well as the legislation required by municipalities, so too has the Summer Villages’ administration.
“I have been with the Summer Villages for five years and at that time, we had four staff members including the CAO,” Forsyth said. “As the province has grown, we have been asked to do more and our staff has grown to seven. Our councils are very supportive of being good neighbors and maximizing economies of scale.”
She added that while the Summer Villages work collaboratively but they also maintain their own distinct and unique entities.
“Each community has their own personalities and our administration allows them to meet all the requirements of the provinces,” she said. “Each community has their own mission statement, but our administration looks to bring professionalism and representation.”
The Ministers Awards criteria is laid out by Municipal Affairs and the Summer Villages felt that winning one of the awards would highlight the success of the last 25 years as a shared administration.
“We are well practiced at compromise and doing things together,” Forsyth said.
The Summer Villages face new challenges going forward as their population shifts towards a younger, permanent and commuting demographic that requires modern and year-round services – something that the villages will include in their new Municipal Development Plan, which will be a new requirement from the province of Alberta.
Forsyth added that she is “really honored to work for five municipalities that are focused on being good neighbors to other municipalities.”