Benefits of Foundational Relationships:
Fort Nelson First Nation and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality
Fort Nelson First Nation (Fort Nelson) and Northern Rockies Regional Municipality (the Regional Municipality) have a strong and long standing relationship based on mutual respect and productive communications. Both communities have had turnover at the staff and political level, but the relationship between communities was not lost among the turnover. Both communities attribute the strength in their relationship to a positive tone that was set years ago at the political level, as well as a general sense that neighbours should look out for one another. The desire for cooperation between the communities was documented in a community protocol and regional community agreements in both 2004 and 2009.
The foundational relationship between the communities has had many benefits:
- Better communication: high trust between the communities and regular open communication.
- Better service delivery: dedication to delivering a quality service and paying a fair price.
- Minimized risk to service delivery: although the current water service agreement has lapsed, parties continue to deliver and pay for services without interruption while the agreement is renewed.
- Accessibility to new services: Fort Nelson was recently in urgent need of some assistance with building inspection services in the community. The Regional Municipality was able and willing to help Fort Nelson by providing these services on a fee basis.
Although the relationship between the two communities is strong and well rooted, both see opportunities to enhance the partnership further in some specific ways:
- Holding routine (approximately two to four per year) operational meetings to discuss trans-boundary issues
- Collaboration on operational issues such as procurement (e.g. bulk purchasing of materials to get a better price)
- Sharing resources such as equipment
- Cooperating on emergency response
Both parties acknowledge the potential benefits of setting out their relationship, specific collaborative practices, and communication strategies more formally in an updated Community to Community protocol.
- An established foundational relationship between communities can be effective in managing some of the risks of staff or political turnover
- Opportunities and benefits of collaboration go far beyond formal service agreements, and can be especially beneficial for smaller communities with limited resources or access to services