The Let's Resolve Program
The innovative and multi-faceted Let’s Resolve program offered by Municipal Dispute Resolution Services encourages and facilitates collaborative governance and dispute resolution alternatives, provides mediation and dispute resolution support, and offers training to municipal leaders who want to improve how they deal with conflict.
By ensuring that all Alberta municipalities have access to and are able to use dispute resolution services, local solutions to local issues are encouraged and supported through mediation services, collaborative governance system design, training programs, peer mentorship, and partnerships with municipalities and local government associations.
In 1994, changes to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) gave municipal councils natural person powers and the authority “to govern municipalities in whatever way the Councils consider appropriate” (sec. 9). The MGA was subsequently amended in 1995 and 1999 to include dispute resolution processes, requiring municipalities to attempt mediation before allowing them to appeal to the Municipal Government Board for a binding decision.
To ensure Alberta municipalities had the resources to adapt to these changes, Alberta Municipal Affairs requested the assistance of the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (now the Rural Municipalities of Alberta) and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association to develop guidelines for an initiative to promote the use of alternative dispute resolution methods, and mediation in particular, at the local government level. In 1998, the input of these stakeholders and the support of the Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society led to the creation of the Intermunicipal Dispute Resolution Initiative.
From these humble beginnings, the Let’s Resolve program, as it came to be known, expanded to include other services. Among them is the Collaborative Governance Initiative which helps municipalities design effective conflict resolution systems for diverse areas of work within and between municipalities. The program also includes a comprehensive series of workshops that focus on different aspects of conflict resolution, such as negotiation, public input, and workplace conflict management, to assist municipal leaders in their work. Lastly, partnerships with provincial municipal associations and other stakeholders have been forged, leading to the creation of the Peer Network and an Advisory Committee.
Innovation and Excellence
The Let’s Resolve program is a first of its kind in Canada and an innovative municipal dispute resolution service model in North America. It has been recognized with three Premier’s Awards of Excellence, including bronze awards in 2000 and 2002, and a silver award in 2008 for the creation of the Public Input Toolkit. In 2008, the program received a Canada Award of Excellence, silver, from the National Quality Institute, and Bill Diepeveen, the Manager of Municipal Dispute Resolution Services, was also awarded the national Lionel J. McGowan Award of Excellence in Dispute Resolution from the ADR Institute of Canada.
Let’s Resolve continues to grow in importance as municipalities across Alberta are changing their business to accommodate more collaborative processes and service delivery synergies with their municipal neighbours.
Contact a member of our team if you have any questions about our programs and services.