Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher (centre) with councillors Duncan McDonald and Mandy McGregor at the 2019 FCM Conference in Quebec City. Submitted

Elkford Mayor Dean McKerracher (centre) with councillors Duncan McDonald and Mandy McGregor at the 2019 FCM Conference in Quebec City. Submitted

Elkford wins national award for work with Latin American communities

Colombian and Peruvian municipalities benefit from District of Elkford’s expertise

The District of Elkford has been honoured for its efforts to help mining communities in Latin America, winning the top prize for municipalities in Canada.

Mayor Dean McKerracher travelled to Quebec City for the annual Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Conference, where he proudly accepted the 2019 Institutional Award on behalf of the District on Sunday.

“We’re very honoured to be selected,” said McKerracher, speaking from Quebec City.

LOOK BACK: District of Elkford nominated for national awards

The Institutional Award is given to a Canadian local government that has demonstrated exceptional commitment and leadership in FCM’s international programs.

The District said Elkford’s win can be largely attributed to the exceptional work and contributions of outgoing Chief Administration Officer, Curtis Helgesen, over the past four years.

He was nominated for the FCM’s Mike Badham Award, which recognizes an individual whose above and beyond in terms of innovation, creativity, engagement and leadership.

Elkford has been an active participant in FCM’s Sustainable and Inclusive Communities in Latin America (CISAL) program since its inception in 2015.

LOOK BACK: Elkford Mayor and CAO advise Colombian municipalities

The five-year initiative is designed to support local governments in Latin America in their efforts to manage the impacts and benefits of mining development, and to promote sustainable economic growth for its citizens.

According to FCM, Elkford was a logical choice to work with the municipalities in La Guajira, Colombia, and Ancash, Peru, as they shared many features, such as rich natural resources and extractive activity.

“With the help of Elkford, the partner local governments in La Guajira and Ancash are creating a plan to address major infrastructure capacity gaps involving roadways, water supply and waste management,” said the FCM.

Throughout the program, Elkford participated in seven missions to Colombia and Peru, and hosted delegations twice.

LOOK BACK: FCM international program visits Elkford

McKerracher said one of the municipalities was inspired by Sparwood’s Titan Truck and planned to rehabilitate a park, and display their own mine truck.

Other ideas pitched to the mayors included improving roads and building a dam to provide hydropower.

“We were very impressed at how eager and willing they were to learn,” said McKerracher, who acknowledged that while the communities share similarities, they are also very different in terms of governance and food, and water security.

“They worry on a daily basis where they’re going to get their water and their food… I hope that we made a difference and I hope that we helped.

“I’d love to be able to go back in a year… now that the mayors and the council have been in for a year, a year and a half, it would be good to see what’s changed for them.”