2021 award recipients
The winners for the 2021 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence are:
- Building Economic Strength Category: City of Medicine Hat, Innovative Approach to Economic Supports
- Enhancing Community Safety Category: Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Vulnerable Persons Self-Registry
- Partnership Category: Town of Devon (with Enoch Cree Nation – Maskêkosihk), Indigenous Engagement and Relationship Building
- Service Delivery Innovation Category: Town of Okotoks, Okotoks Transit On-Demand
- Smaller Municipalities Category: Town of Bruderheim, Climate Resilience Action Plan
Along with this year’s program, the Minister of Municipal Affairs is also pleased to provide special recognition for red tape reduction initiatives. These municipalities have demonstrated their commitment to finding efficiencies, reducing unnecessary red tape, and encouraging private sector investment:
- Urban municipality under 10,000: Village of Elnora
- Urban municipality over 10,000: City of Lloydminster
- Rural municipality: Red Deer County
2021 award submissions
2021 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence
Learn more about all of the initiatives submitted for the 2021 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence:
Building Economic Strength category
- City of Airdrie, Developed and Implemented an Economic Strategy
- City of Calgary, City of Calgary efforts in building economic strength for citizens, customers and businesses
- City of Leduc, COVID Recovery Grant Collaboration (Short-listed)
- Mackenzie County, Response to Disasters
- Strathcona County, Collaborative Approach to Reducing Red Tape
- Sturgeon County, Villeneuve Landing Network and Growth Initiative (Short-listed)
- Town of Cardston, 1.9 Mega Watt Solar Farm
- Town of Claresholm, Community Takes Roots (Short-listed)
- Town of Drayton Valley, Zero Fee Tuition Initiative
Enhancing Community Safety category
- City of Calgary, COVID-19 Response: Innovation and Collaboration at the City of Calgary (Short-listed)
- City of Edmonton, Community Safety Deployment Model (Short-listed)
- City of Red Deer, City of Red Deer Community Safety Summit
- Lac La Biche County, Safe Place Program (Short-listed)
- Town of Bonnyville, RCMP General Investigative Services (GIS) Unit
- Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Emergency Management Training
- Northern Sunrise County, Community Impact Statements
- Town of Fort Macleod, Safe Communities Task Force
- Town of Olds, COVID-19 Response
- Village of Edgerton, Enhanced Rural Community Safety
- City of Chestermere, Calgary-Chestermere Intermunicipal Development Plan (Short-listed)
- City of Fort Saskatchewan, Implementing Bills 7 and 29 – Heartland Incentive Policy (Short-listed)
- City of Grande Prairie, Street Outreach Program (Short-listed)
- City of Red Deer, Rapid Protections for Vulnerable Red Deerians (Short-listed)
- City of St. Albert, Edmonton Metropolitan Region Transit Services Commission (Short-listed)
- County of Grande Prairie, Regional Ice Capacity and Behaviour Guidelines
- County of Wetaskiwin, Ice and Water Rescue
- Lacombe County, Sylvan Lake Intermunicipal Development Plan (Short-listed)
- Town of Bonnyville, Bonnyville/Cold Lake Regional Waterline
- Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Tawâw Housing First Partnership
- Town of Black Diamond, Intermunicipal Economic Development Committee
- Town of Blackfalds, Eagle Builders Centre
- Town of Fort Macleod, Intermunicipal Collaborative Framework
- Town of High Level, Dene Tha’/Town of High Level Community Development Cooperation
- Town of Innisfail, Elemental Energy Community Partnership Funding
- Town of Penhold, Isolation Activity Kits Project
- Town of Strathmore, Siksika Nation – RCMP – Town of Strathmore Tri-Partite Agreement
- Town of Westlock, Partnerships
- Villages of Irma, Chauvin and Edgerton, Municipal Collaboration for Product Purchases and Grants
Service Delivery Innovation category
- Camrose County, Online Fire Permit Request Form (Short-listed)
- Camrose County, Online Snowplow Request Form (Short-listed)
- City of Airdrie, Defining and Aligning Organizational Direction
- City of Edmonton, Digitization of Permanent Sign Permits (Short-listed)
- City of Grande Prairie, Transit Solar and E-Bus Project (Short-listed)
- City of Leduc, Walk with a Doc and Seniors Active Afternoons (Short-listed)
- Town of Olds, Annual Service Level Review
- Town of Rocky Mountain House, Service Delivery for Environmental and Financial Savings
- Town of Vauxhall, Solid Waste Management Procedures
Smaller Municipalities category
- Lamont County, Web Based Timesheet System
- Smoky Lake County, Smoky Lake Pumpkin Patch Daycare Co-op
- Town of Bon Accord, Sustainable Solar Farm Project
- Town of Bowden, Economic Growth
- Town of Fairview, Covid-19 Business Support Grant
- Town of Mayerthorpe, COVID-19 Pandemic Business Support Grant
- Town of Nanton, Establishment of a Vacant Non-Residential Assessment Sub-Class that applies to improvements (Short-listed)
- Town of Penhold, Winter Warm-Up Care Packages (Short-listed)
- Town of Smoky Lake, Smoky Lake Broadband Internet Project
- Village of Edgerton, Residential and Non-Residential Incentive Programs
- Village of Hythe, Fibre Optics – Innovative Public Private Partnership to develop broadband Internet (Short-listed)
Past award recipients
2020 award recipients
Building Economic Strength Category
Winner – Town of Taber, Wastewater Operations Collaboration
The Town of Taber entered into a public-private partnership with Lantic Inc., Taber’s local sugar factory, to operate its wastewater treatment plant in 2018. The town provided certified utility operators to oversee Lantic's wastewater program, and to assist with its maintenance and capital replacement plans.
Enhancing Community Safety Category
No submissions were received for this category for the 2020 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence.
Winner – Town of Peace River, Sunrise Medical Clinic
Partners: Northern Sunrise County, Municipal District of Peace No. 135, County of Northern Lights, Frank Lovsin, Obsidian Energy, Mercer International Inc. and Rotary Club of Peace River
The Town of Peace River and its partners collaborated across regional, public and private spheres to improve access to healthcare in Northern Alberta by partnering to develop a medical clinic adjacent to the Regional Medical Centre (hospital) that provides expanded treatment space.
Service Delivery Innovation Category
Winner – City of Lethbridge, Tax and Assessment with HEART
The Tax and Assessment with HEART program provides vulnerable homeowners an opportunity to seek assistance from an array of different programs and resources, via a combined tax, assessment and community partner outreach team. This is an early intervention program that is helping vulnerable citizens and engaging community groups and city workers to find solutions together. The program was designed to prevent homelessness rather than be a contributor to homelessness.
Smaller Municipalities Category
Winner – Town of Raymond, Net Zero Solar Project
The Town of Raymond installed solar panels in an effort to be more environmentally friendly, and to decrease electricity costs associated with running the municipality. Municipal operations are now electrically net-zero generating, and selling as much solar electricity as consumed operationally.
2020 practices submitted
The following are the practices received by Municipal Affairs for consideration for the 2020 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence program. The list excludes the award winners which are listed in the award winner section above.
Building Economic Strength Category
City of Lacombe, Building Lacombe – Request for Expression of Interest
The City of Lacombe used a Request for Expressions of Interest process to leverage private sector innovation to address the challenge of non-performing and under-utilized city assets. The expressions of interest from the business community resulted in 2 partnerships and outcomes that included new taxation revenue, renewed use of municipal spaces, strategic land acquisition, downtown revitalization and net positive cash proceeds for the city.
Town of Claresholm, Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Project
The Town of Claresholm was one of 11 communities to participate in the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot offered by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada. Communities participating in the program set community-specific criteria and worked with local employers to recruit prospective immigrants. In Claresholm, the Claresholm Economic Development Committee managed the program which began in February 2020. In the first 4 weeks of the program, over 9,000 prospective profiles from prospective applicants were created, 12 employers have completed the orientation to participate in the program and 7 offers of employment from eligible employers were received.
Enhancing Community Safety category
No submissions were received for this category for the 2020 Minister’s Awards for Municipal Excellence.
City of Red Deer, Partnering for the 2019 Canada Winter Games
Partner: 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society
The City of Red Deer partnered with the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society to host the largest multi-sport event in Alberta since the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. Through the partnership, the City of Red Deer was able to step back from organizing the event and became a partner organization which allowed greater community involvement from partners such as the Government of Canada, Government of Alberta, Red Deer College, Westerner Park and numerous businesses and sponsors in organizing the games.
Lac La Biche County, #TakeItToTheLake
Partners: Athabasca County, Municipal District of Bonnyville, Town of Vermilion
Lac La Biche County and 3 other municipalities partnered to launch the #TakeItToTheLake social media marketing campaign to promote tourist visits to the region. The campaign reached over 650,000 users on social media.
Parkland County, Tri-Municipal Regional Plan
Partners: City of Spruce Grove, Town of Stony Plain
Parkland County partnered with the City of Spruce Grove and the Town of Stony Plain to jointly develop a Tri-Municipal Regional Plan focused on finding opportunities for partnership among the 3 municipalities. The scope of this project included a full municipal services strategy as well as: close examination of specific areas including competitiveness and economic development; land use, social, cultural, and recreational opportunities, housing needs, and transportation, utilities, and infrastructure.
Town of Devon, Clean Energy Improvement Program
Partner: Energy Efficiency Alberta
The Town of Devon worked collaboratively with Energy Efficiency Alberta on the development and implementation of a Clean Energy Implementation Program to provide financing to residential and commercial property owners to make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to their properties.
Service Delivery Innovation category
City of Calgary, Technology’s Role in Greening Our City
The Parks and Urban Forestry team at the City of Calgary shifted to using geographic information system technology to make informed decisions, improve workflows to maximize operational budgets and improve the health of urban trees. The result was more trees watered which reduced tree mortality from 11% to 4%, and enabled the team to increase annual tree pruning by 17% while improving the health of the city’s urban forest and responsiveness to citizens.
City of Edmonton, Safety Codes Inspection Efficiency Program
The City of Edmonton created an advanced Machine Learning Artificial Intelligence model to predict pass rates for non-mandatory inspections in their Quality Management Plan for Plumbing and HVAC inspections in single family homes. This new process allowed highly trained, valuable staff resources to focus on more complicated inspections that pose a higher risk to public safety and shortens timelines for builders.
City of Grande Prairie, Decrease Processing Times Through Delegation of Authority
Council at the City of Grande Prairie delegated more authority to appropriate members of city administration with the goal of reducing processing time for key processes. Two processes that were improved as a result of this delegation included procurement where the authority to conduct a robust competitive bidding process resulted in awards that had been previously approved by Council in the current operating or capital budget, and the delegation to the city’s development officers to approve development permits for discretionary uses and variances.
Strathcona County, Online Property Assessment Review
Strathcona County’s Online Property Assessment Review utilizes surveys that are sent to homeowners in annual re-inspection areas throughout the county. Survey questions include everything from the number of bathrooms to home renovations to potential structural issues. Completed surveys are attached to the property within our assessment system and the data is supplemented with aerial imagery, permitting data, Multiple Listing Service (MLS) data and Google Street View.
Town of Taber, Taber Communities in Bloom Partnership
The Town of Taber maintained a partnership with the local Communities in Bloom chapter in order to provide efficiencies and a cost-effective approach to green space management in the community. By allowing volunteers to work closely with the town’s parks staff and allowing them to complete the work on beautification and garden maintenance, tax dollars were saved and able to be allocated to other services under the purview of the town’s recreation department.
Village of Clive, Regional Intermunicipal Subdivision and Development Appeal Board
The Village of Clive and 23 other municipalities are members of a regional intermunicipal subdivision and development appeal board managed by Parkland Community Planning Services. Participating municipalities shared a pool of board members and a pool of Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB) Clerks to hear appeals of the municipality's Development Authority and Subdivision Authority decisions.
Smaller municipalities category
Town of Mayerthorpe
The Town of Mayerthorpe developed a regional business directory, Shop43.ca, to market businesses, products and services to consumers and visitors along the Highway 43 corridor from Highway 16 to the border with British Columbia.
Town of Tofield
In late summer 2019, the town amalgamated its public works and recreation departments to form one new department in order to consolidate reporting structure and provide consistency and cohesion to the organization.
2019 award recipients
Winner – Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
The Ideas Committee was developed in August 2017 to grow a culture of innovation and change in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. It gives municipal staff an opportunity to come together to discuss new ideas, efficiencies, cost savings and revenue opportunities to deal with the complexities facing the community. By connecting “boots on the ground” to senior leadership, employees have been empowered to create positive change and use creative thinking to grow a culture of innovation.
Winner – County of Warner
The Milk River Ridge Reservoir Water Quality Stewardship Initiative is a collaborative effort that involves provincial and municipal governments, private and public organizations, and local volunteers. Its aim is to explore, assess and implement strategies to improve management of the provincial land corridor and nearby private lands. Where possible, restoration can also be done. All of this is meant to maintain or improve water quality in Ridge Reservoir and the conveyances and storage facilities connected to it.
Winner – Town of Claresholm
The Risk Reduction Community Coalition connects police, Alberta Health Service providers and first responders with students and families towards preventative education. Together, they educate community members about smart choices and practising safety in everyday life. The goal of this initiative is to change behaviour, thoughts and feelings associated with the risks young people face, and to eliminate destructive choices.
Winner – City of Calgary
Calgary launched its 311 Live Maps in September 2018, allowing people to view 311 service requests as they are reported in real time. Citizens can now serve themselves online and view specific details about requests without having to call 311 for updates. Users can view online maps, calculate distances, get directions to reported concerns and download information, including pictures of work completed by city crews. The service has helped reduce costs and improve service levels while increasing transparency and accountability.
Winner – Town of Bruderheim
The Business Incubator and Women Rising networking group was started with a goal of improving quality of life and supporting new and existing businesses. Created by the Bruderheim Infinity Business Centre, the volunteer-led programs are the first of their kind in the area, serving the rural region east of Fort Saskatchewan. They provide training, resources and opportunities for a stronger economic development presence in Bruderheim and surrounding areas.
Winner – County of Barrhead
The Barrhead and Area Regional Crime Coalition was established in 2017 as a partnership between the town and County of Barrhead, along with Woodlands County, Barrhead RCMP and Barrhead and District Rural Crime Watch Association, in response to increased crime rates throughout the region. By modifying technology usually used by a single municipality, the coalition was able to bring more law enforcement resources to bear in areas with limited services. This approach was a first not only for Alberta, but for Canada. By combining fiscal and administrative resources, the coalition made costs more feasible and workloads more manageable for all of the partners.
2018 award recipients
Winner – Town of Drumheller
The Town of Drumheller's Dinowalk – Dinosaur Street Walk Project adds a digital layer of information to wayfinding signage to encourage pedestrians to learn how dinosaurs shaped Drumheller's natural history. This approach means that smartphone users can access information, comparable to street-level interpretive information, linked to Wikipedia. Using this approach makes it possible to promote the use of digital information sharing, without the costs associated with conventional interpretive signage.
Winner – City of Lethbridge
The Traditional Knowledge and Use Agreement is a partnership between the City of Lethbridge and Blackfoot Confederacy Nations (Blood Tribe, Piikani Nation and Siksika Nation). The project aims to identify and understand places of traditional land use, ecological knowledge and spirituality within the boundaries of the city. The information gathered will inform land use and parks planning projects and on-going heritage management in the city.
Winner – Town of Coaldale
The Town of Coaldale established an effective, well-rounded and collaborative emergency management training program that has improved the level of emergency preparedness and public safety. In 2017 the town implemented training initiatives that increased the level of confidence, skills and knowledge of its emergency management agency and town staff to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters. This has added greatly to public safety in Coaldale.
Winner – City of Calgary
The City of Calgary began building a wireless Internet of Things network in 2016. When complete, this project will provide wireless signal coverage for a large part of Calgary to accommodate 100,000 Internet of Things sensors. This will allow the city to develop and deliver new services and prepare for city-wide applications such as noise and air-quality monitoring.
Winner – Town of Smoky Lake
Smoky Lake Grows Entrepreneurs is an initiative by the Town of Smoky Lake aimed to help small business develop and grow in small, rural communities. A contract business coach works with entrepreneurs, the chamber of commerce and Grades 7 to 9 students at Smoky Lake’s H.A. Kostash School and teaches them about running a business. Together, businesses and organizations learn about doing business and supporting sustainability after the project ends.
2017 award recipients
Winner – Clearwater County
Clearwater County’s Sasquatch and Partners initiative, a marketing campaign using an innovative approach to educate and encourage recreational visitors to the West Country area to take initiative regarding environmental stewardship, was chosen as the Innovation winner.
Honourable mention – Town of Olds
The honourable mention in this category goes to the Town of Olds for This Affects You: Municipal Engagement Excellence. This practice established a public engagement policy to ensure citizen engagement is a deliberate and prioritized process.
Winner – Leduc County
Leduc County was the winner in this category with it Aerotropolis Viability Study. This comprehensive plan and feasibility study to develop the Aerotropolis site to further leverage connectivity of the Edmonton International Airport was a complex project involving multiple stakeholders and regional participants.
Honourable mention – Town of Grimshaw
The honourable mention goes to the Town of Grimshaw for its Joint Schools Project/Joint Use Agreement. The partnership with several partners resulted in construction of a K to 12 public and K to 9 Catholic school attached to the Mile Zero Regional Multiplex in Grimshaw, and a joint use agreement for its operation.
Winner – Parkland County
Parkland County was the successful award winner with its Property Awareness Safety Training initiative. This comprehensive training tool combines information and practical skills to promote the safety of public service employees when approaching residential and commercial properties. This is an emerging issue for many municipalities and can serve as a best practice for other communities.
Winner – City of Edmonton
The City of Edmonton’s Civic Accommodation Transformation initiative was selected as the winner for this category. This project consolidated 3,200 employees from multiple buildings into the new Edmonton Tower and also incorporated employee health and wellness to maximize the workforce of the future and increase engagement. This practice demonstrated how to complete a complex move (and can serve as a blue print for other municipalities) that also built in cultural change incorporating wellness into the accommodation practice.
Honourable mention – City of Calgary
The honourable mention goes to the City of Calgary for the Transforming Municipal Procurement initiative. This project will transform how the city conducts fair, open and transparent procurement processes.
Winner – Villages of Irma, Chauvin and Edgerton
The Villages of Irma, Chauvin and Edgerton were the winners for their Shared Staff and Equipment initiative. This practice sees the municipalities working together to provide safe drinking water by hiring a Regional Water Operator, sharing costs for a snow operator and snow removal, and joint meetings with RCMP for the viability of citizen watch groups. This is an excellent demonstration of municipalities collaborating to share resources.
Honourable mention – Northern Sunrise County
The honourable mention goes to Northern Sunrise County for a weed inspection program. The Inspectors Next Step Per Established Communication Table (I.N.S.P.E.C.T.) constructed a simple and effective inspection matrix that guides weed inspectors in following a set communication and action strategy to manage weeds.
Outstanding Achievement Award – Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
After reviewing the 37 applications, the review committee recommended the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo’s Post-Wildfire Re-Entry Information Centres initiative as the winner of the Outstanding Achievement award. These information/reception centres were established to assist the re-integration of the community through a phased, voluntary re-entry strategy. The information centres became a critical element in the municipality's efforts to help residents adjust and the majority of residents, approximately 83,000, would visit the centres. This practice demonstrated extensive partnerships with community organizations, industry and business and other levels of government to provide services to residents.
2016 award recipients
Winner – Town of Hinton
The Town of Hinton empowered its residents to determine how to use $100,000 of the town’s annual budget. Residents present project ideas and residents vote on the possible projects. Voting is open to all residents from 14 years old and up. The town has completed this process for 2 years. The first year, bus shelters were built and the hall was renovated. The next year, the Master Trail plan was created to improve the trails throughout the town.
Winner – Summer Villages of Jarvis Bya, Birchcliff, Half Moon Bay, Norglenwold and Sunbreaker Cove
Five summer villages (the Summer Village of Jarvis Bay, the Summer Villages of Birchcliff, Half Moon Bay, Norglenwold and Sunbreaker Cove) share the same administration, but keep their individual councils, bylaws, and Chief Administrative Officers. This shared service achieves cost savings and enables the individual municipalities to work together without losing their own unique and individual identities, needs and cultures.
Winner – City of Grande Prairie
The City of Grande Prairie has created a proactive crime prevention department which continues to build on the strengths of the city by using a co-ordinated approach to engage citizens, agencies, and businesses to reduce crime in the community. As a result of the new department, the community’s knowledge of crime prevention awareness and resources to address potential crime has increased. Community members are better prepared to deal with unexpected and emergent crime issues. Citizens feel that their neighbourhoods are safer and experience a decrease in social isolation.
Winner – City of Calgary
The information technology business unit at the City of Calgary has leveraged capital works projects to build and deploy a fibre optic network to support city services. This approach has been effective in building over 450 kilometres of city fibre in use today. The City of Calgary has built the municipally-owned fibre infrastructure. Owning the infrastructure provides the city greater security and control of its networks. In turn, it is able to offer reliable and superior performance, lower costs and scalability within a sustainable framework for the future.
Winner – Town of Bon Accord
The Town of Bon Accord was designated as an International Dark Sky Community in 2015. It is the first in Canada and one of only 11 communities across the globe to receive this designation. The town implemented its Light Efficient Community Standards Bylaw which helped to reduce light pollution, through at least 10 projects supported and completed in the bylaw. This included street lighting retrofits by Public Works and outreach visits at local schools to inspire students to embrace the nighttime environment. The community hosts an annual Equinox Festival each September, which draws both residents and tourists to Bon Accord for a celebration of the night sky.
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