March 14, 2018 4:51 pm
Updated: March 14, 2018 4:57 pm

AUMA apologizes after CEO kicks media out of Q&A session with Alberta ministers

The Shaw Conference Centre in downtown Edmonton.

Courtsy: Google Street View

Delegates to the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) municipal leaders caucus asked a lot of questions of provincial ministers on Wednesday afternoon, however, the concept of open government seemed lost during one of the question and answer sessions with Transportation Minister Brian Mason and Infrastructure Minister Sandra Jansen.

Once the session with the ministers started, members of the media were told to leave.

Acting AUMA CEO Dan Rude explained it was because municipal politicians were “unaware” they’d be asking questions of ministers with the media listening in. He then refused to address the issue further.

LISTEN: Reporters ask why they’re being asked to leave the AUMA meeting 

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After some back and forth in the hallway of the Shaw Conference Centre, it was decided reporters would be allowed back in for the remaining sessions with ministers, including Deron Bilous and Sarah Hoffman.

After the media was asked to leave, the AUMA had an apparent change of heart and took to Twitter to explain what happened.

“Sorry for the confusion at the dialogue sessions during AUMA’s MLC. This wasn’t typical bear pit session we have at convention but an opportunity for discussion [between municipalities] and [Government of Alberta]. Will ensure media invites are clear in future.”

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Several of the minister’s press secretaries made the point clear that they thought the media should be able to sit in on the question and answer session.

Among the many pieces of information that ministers shared with reporters, Mason joked, “We have no funding for gondolas, I’m sorry,” adding that he “hates heights.” But he later told delegates that a new funding system is coming with new criteria and that cities can pitch concepts like gondolas.

READ MORE: Gondola over the North Saskatchewan river wins the Edmonton Project contest

The new criteria, Mason said, “will promote regional cooperation on transit and should support low- and zero-emission vehicles.”

Mason also said his ministry’s review of photo radar will be released sometime this summer. It was interrupted because he didn’t want the issue to cloud the lead-up to October’s municipal elections.

Jansen said she and federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi are close to signing off $3.4 billion in federal infrastructure funds. She said it would be a 10-year plan, even though Mayor Don Iveson is looking for an even longer-term commitment.

“I like the idea of that, too,” Jansen said.

Jansen also told delegates the province is setting up an application system that comes through “a single portal” to make it easier for municipalities to apply for infrastructure cash.

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