I believe the Grande Prairie area could be much more efficient in how it delivers its municipal services.
Perhaps the most glaring example is in regards to fire service. The region has several fire departments, each which only operate within their boundaries*. To highlight the ridiculousness of this, we have to look no further than to a fire that happened recently in Silverpointe, just west of the City border, directly south of the Airport. There is a City fire station literally a few blocks away from this subdivision, yet, because it's located in the County, fire trucks had to come from the Dunes fire station and Wembley. Just crazy.
In addition to the poor coordination of services this model gives us, it is more expensive. By not coordinating on the location and number of fire detachments, I believe we have more than are needed for the region. We also have to have a separate management staff as well as additional fire personnel to man all the stations. Thus, the region is paying a lot more for fire service than it needs to be.
Another major example is when it comes to development services. Each municipality has separate land use bylaws and engineering standards for development. Therefore, developers and builders have to navigate through 7 different sets of policies when building in the GP region. They also have to coordinate with multiple development authorities as they build. This can be very time consuming. In addition to multiple development authorities, they have to deal with different building inspection offices. All in all, not a very efficient system.
We find another example in our GIS (Geographic Information Systems) departments. These are the people that map out our municipalities plotting everything from land ownership boundaries to locations of trees. To get detailed maps of the entire area, you have to go to 7 different municipalities and can end up having to decipher multiple map systems. Again, not too efficient. Oh, did I forget to mention the cost of running multiple departments...
Another major example is in transportation. I think our road networks could be much more efficient if we had better coordination of road systems and looked at them with a regional focus. For example, I think it would make much more sense to have our truck route coming from the south on Hwy 40, take a turn going west on the correction line and continue north along the County's Range Road 63 which turns into the City's 116 St and then back into RR 63 before hitting the Hwy 43X bypass. This would alleviate traffic on 108 St. keeping heavy trucks away from major residential and commercial hubs as well as the new hospital.
Before I sound like too much of a downer, I will make note that we do have a number of services that coordinate very well. Our Disaster and Emergency response systems function well by my estimation. The Grande Prairie Regional Emergency Partnership (GPREP) brings together the municipalities in the area to have shared plans in case of an emergency. While not perfect, Aquatera has served well in how it's regionalized water and sewage services.
So there exists some pretty inefficient service delivery in the region. You could go through nearly every municipal service and identify areas where it would just make sense to share resources and expertise. Luckily, there's a few solutions for this.
Next post-----> Problem 4: An Unequal Playing Field to Attract Development
*There are agreements in place to assist one another in extreme emergencies, but these are very few and far between.