Asking for transparency and respect

Written by ECA Review

Dear Editor,
Frustration and tension abound in the Village of Elnora mostly due to a lack of transparency from our village council.

On June 20 there was a “Community Concerns” gathering for residents to attend. The outcome was to request a Municipal Inspection. By July 4, a petition was signed by 85 per cent of the residents and documents were forwarded to Municipal Affairs.

Many decisions by the Village council prompted this action of the residents.

The grocery store was purchased by the Village with no public consultation or involvement. One day it was just announced that $365,000 of our taxpayer money went to buy a grocery store no one even knew was for sale.

Part of that building is now being leased out for a grocery store, which we are very thankful for but transparency and consultation with taxpayers would have been appreciated.

Should the Village council be in the rent/leasing business? Rumour has it there were people interested in purchasing the grocery store had they known it was for sale.

Every resident should feel comfortable entering the Village Office with any questions or concerns, but this is not the case. Some people find it to be very toxic and not welcoming.

Our Village also had a library and one day it was announced the building had been condemned due to mold and other toxic materials issues. It would be far too expensive to fix or demolish so the library would have to move.

It has since found a temporary location and will eventually move into the newly purchased “grocery store”.

There was much talk around the community about what to do with this condemned building. Apparently, someone walked into the Village Office, offered a ridiculously low price and the Village sold it. The building never went up for public tender and no one had any idea it would be for sale.

Again, transparency would have been appreciated. The building was valued at a lot more than for the amount it was sold.

On Sept. 19, I attended a public meeting of the Elnora Library Board. There has been much tension between the Library Board and Friends of the Library. These two groups need each other, the question is can we leave the past in the past?

I was pleased to hear the Library Board vote unanimously to move forward on a new positive path to reconciling and working together.

Over the past nine years The Friends of the Library have raised a huge amount of money to support the library and new volunteers are welcome and needed to ensure the tradition is not lost.

The good news is Municipal Affairs has confirmed the petition was received and accepted and will be conducting a Preliminary Review to understand the needs of the Village.

Upon completion of the Review, it will be forwarded to the Honourable Ric McIver who will determine the next steps.

Hopefully, this will provide the residents with the transparency they are seeking and reduce the tension and the council will have a clear understanding of their “Roles and Responsibilities.”

Residents, at the very least, believe taxpayers should have some input as to the way their tax money is spent.

We have a wonderful community and a little gem of a Village. We want to get back to working together as a community with the Village council to ensure our Village is sustainable and able to offer all the amenities it needs to survive, grow and prosper.

Simply and to conclude, Elnorians want inclusion allowing transparency, consultation and respect, especially when it comes to decisions by our local government on how their tax money is spent.

Kathleen Primrose
Elnora, Alta.

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ECA Review