The Peer Network provides dispute resolution services using current and former municipal leaders who have proven success resolving inter-municipal disputes. This unique service guides municipal leaders to help themselves in areas of dispute and to find successful, win-win outcomes.
In 2004, RMA recognized that unresolved or poorly-resolved conflicts could be costly and frustrating, and potentially compromise both internal council relationships and intermunicipal collaboration. The association’s Council Conflict Resolution Committee saw the enormous challenge municipalities face finding consensus among diverse groups. The committee recommended seeking the support of Alberta Municipal Affairs’ Dispute Resolution Initiative. Together, the association and the government could “establish a group of respected…[officials to] provide advice and support to their peers in resolving conflict.”
Eventually, RMA and Municipal Affairs partnered with AUMA, ARMAA and LGAA to form the Peer Network. RMA formally announced the Peer Network at its Spring 2004 Convention. Peer Network’s experienced leaders would offer free advice, alternatives and short-term conflict resolution assistance.
- Issue resolution at the local level
- Increased harmony between neighbouring municipalities
- Alternative dispute resolution (i.e. without resorting to court)
- Networking between municipal leaders
- Access to value-added services for association
Municipal leaders are regularly faced with complex and controversial issues that need to be addressed and resolved. Peer mentors are trained in alternative dispute resolution. Their names and contact information are publicized in Peer Network marketing, and the mentors appear at association trade shows. Through the marketing of this network, mentors receive calls from other municipal officials requesting advice. The majority of these requests come via telephone contact, and often require only a short conversation. It is essentially sharing years of experience and wisdom with municipal leaders that need some advice. It is confidential, to ensure both the person seeking advice and the mentor are comfortable speaking openly.
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