Rossland mayor receives Diamond Jubilee Medal on behalf of the municipality
Greg Granstrom, the mayor of Rossland, was presented the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal on Feb. 13 by Coun. Tim Thatcher at the end of council’s regular meeting.
Granstrom said the medal, for which he was nominated by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), was an “honour” and a “nice recognition,” but moreover a “total surprise.”
The Diamond Jubilee Medal will eventually be received by about 60,000 Canadians in recognition of outstanding community achievements and in honour of the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. Recipients include Rosslanders Bobbi LaFond, Jackie Drysdale and, most recently, Al Fisher.
“[Granstrom] was chosen to receive this distinction for his dedication and efforts to make our community a great place to live in,” Thatcher told council. “I’ve known Greg for many years. He’s been involved in our community for years now. I first met him in 1988 when we first joined the Rossland volunteer firefighter department together. Greg earned the respect of all his peers in the fire department and, after 12 years, retired as a captain. After that he entered the world of municipal politics. So on behalf of council and the citizens of Rossland, I’m pleased to present you with this medal.”
Granstrom said he did not know the criteria for the award and was unaware of his nomination, but speculated that perhaps “all the mayors in Canada got one,” noting similar awards to the mayors of Elkford and Warfield.
In fact, the FCM nominated about 1250 mayors to receive the medals out of approximately 3800 Canadian municipalities. Soon after the awards were presented, however, the FCM office in Ottawa began receiving calls from confused mayors about why they had received the award.
The mass nomination process for mayors—constituting about 2 per cent of the 60,000 awards—sparked controversy in some towns, going so far in two municipalities in Renfrew County, Ontario, that their mayors returned the medals stating that they felt their awards would diminish the accomplishments of other recipients.
An FCM representative—for whom direct quotation was not permitted by FCM policy—told us that an important script had been left off the certificates. To paraphrase: ‘…in recognition of you, council, staff, and the community for working to reshape the partnership between federal and municipal governments.’
The FCM explained that, in lieu of nominating entire communities for the medal, which it could not do, it decided to bestow the honour on local heads of council. In other words, Granstrom’s medal is a medal for all of Rossland and specifically recognizes Rossland’s role in the last decade to foster stronger partnerships with the federal government.
Approximately 4000 awards in total were slated for the municipal sector. For about 2750 of these, the FCM served merely as a conduit to forward nominations from all 3800 municipalities to the Governor General. The FCM fielded thousands of applications, but all along there was a plan to reserve approximately 1250 awards to celebrate municipalities that had helped reshape the federal-municipal relationship.
The FCM explained that no such relationship existed a decade ago and, before the year 2000, there was no interaction between federal and municipal levels of government. That began to change in 2002 and 2003 with the creation of the New Deal for Cities and Communities, a founding document based on the notion that the federal government has a role to play in our communities.
Central to this new discourse was the role played by the FCM as it worked with its membership to put pressure on the federal government.
Next came the Gas Tax, the first time in Canada’s history that the federal government made money directly available to all municipalities. Now, every year money is approved for municipal use based on the Gas Tax formula and a town’s population.
Most recently, the Building Canada Plan came about as a seven year application-based program that injects billions of dollars each year into communities who match the funding dollar-for-dollar.
The FCM representative said that they wanted to celebrate municipalities who had long championed this change, but they could not give the awards to the municipality as a whole because the medals must be presented to individuals.
For criteria, they decided to use membership in the FCM for greater than five years as a threshold. Currently there are about 2000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.
The timing was also important. The FCM wanted to make sure that medals awarded for individual accomplishments were presented first—including some given to mayors—before any awards were given to mayors on behalf of their municipalities.
The representative said they’ve been pleased with the celebrations across Canada as a consequence of these awards, despite some challenges such as those presented by the two mayors in Renfrew County who did not contact the FCM before returning their awards.
The FCM emphasized that the 1250 awards like that given to Mayor Granstrom were intended to highlight the importance of all three orders of government working together, each bringing unique skills, resources, and knowledge to the table. Thanks to pressure from municipalities such as Rossland, the representative said, this really began to happen in the last decade.