Council debates pros and cons of reducing number of councillors

Coronation Sign (Terri Huxley/ECA Review)
Terri Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

Coronation, a town with a population of under 1,000, is taking a closer look at how many people will sit on council.

At the regular council meeting on Tues. Oct. 13, the panel made up of six councillors (usually seven) passed the first reading of Bylaw 667-2020, Reduction in the Number of Councillors.

This bylaw, if passed, would reduce their normal seven councillors down to five.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Quinton Flint mentioned council found both positives and negatives to pursuing this.

The reason the bylaw came to light was after council enquired about it as some felt there aren’t enough boards and committees to go around, especially with many now being online or not happening at all because of the pandemic.

On the flip side of the coin, from a democratic perspective, the extra voices give more diverse input that reflects the community.

If the bylaw passes all three readings, the bylaw would not come into effect until 60 days after.

This sixty-day period would allow any residents to petition the bylaw and request that it be reversed for any reason. But if no one does, the bylaw will stand and council will be reduced to five members in the new election cycle.

The current six members remaining will carry out the rest of their term.

The town of Castor also runs using a seven-member council.

Land use bylaw change for RCMP detachment

In order for the new RCMP detachment to come into fruition, a few steps are needed to happen first including an adjustment in Coronation’s land use bylaw.

An amendment created by Palliser Regional Municipal Services suggests council pass three readings to amend a land use map with the new definition capturing the new RCMP detachment be located west of the Coronation Community Centre, and any other public buildings.

The old definition more broadly covered public/quasi-public buildings and facilities, however, there’s already a use called ‘Community Hall’ in the CS district that covers non-governmental community buildings.

Council passed first reading of this recommendation to set the process in motion.

Second and third reading are expected to pass on Oct. 27 after the public hearing.

Organizational meeting

Council switched a couple of things around after going through the annual organizational meeting.

The position of mayor is now held by Ron Checkel while Mark Stannard has become deputy mayor. The pair simply switched positions.

All members kept the boards they already sat on.

Utility Rates bylaw finalized

Council passed third and final reading of the new utility rates bylaw with a few adjustments added.

This bylaw has seen some ‘needed’ changes in the areas of enforcement, giving it more teeth than previously done in the past.

The current bylaw did not explicitly outline the required steps needed to enforce the nonpayment of unpaid utilities or the need to enforce long term nonpayment.

For the 2021 utility consumption rates, they chose to increase the flat rate charge from $25 to $30 and to increase the cubic metre charge to $3 per cubic metre from $2.70 per cubic metre.

A key note was that if a utility meter misreads or if the data is no longer transmitting during any meter billing period, the town will be required to provide the resident with a written ‘Utility Issue Notice.’

This notice will be provided to the account holder and property owner no later than two weeks from the discovery of the issue.

The administration will immediately place the utility account in a ‘Temp Rate’ state.

The monthly utility billing amount for “Temp Rate” will be $42.

The Temp Rate will be charged to the account holder the following month after the Utility Notice.

The ‘Temp Rate’ as well as the regular monthly charges will total $125 per month.

This charge can only be removed from a utility bill after the property owner or account holder provides access to the meter and MXU or LTE transmission units for inspection by municipal staff.

CAO Flint mentioned that many of these new units are ordered but stuck at the US-Canada border.

The Town of Coronation staff should be granted access to the property to repair or replace the transmitting unit as soon as possible to have the Temp Rate removed from any utility account.

This bylaw is set to enforce if a resident’s utilities are in arrears for more than three consecutive months, then administrative actions can be taken to ensure cost recovery efforts.

If funds are not received, administration can issue a 90-day notice letter.

After an additional 30-day notice period, the utility would then be ordered to be shut off at the expense of the property owner.

If a resident wished to have a utility reconnected, it would be a mandatory requirement that the resident (property owner/renter) pay the full outstanding amount on the utility bill before being reconnected to the system.

This would also include full payment for the service fees to reconnect the utilities as well.

If the utilities and the tax roll are not paid within a one-year period, it would be recommended to allow administration to send the accounts to a collections agency to attempt to recoup the costs.

This practice would be kept the same, except that if a renter did not pay their utility, the property owner would assume the costs and roll the outstanding into the tax roll for that property.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

Terri Huxley

Terri Huxley

Terri grew up on a grain farm near Drumheller, Alberta with an eye for the beautiful and uncharted. Living in such a unique and diverse area has helped her become the photographer and reporter she is today.

Coming from the East Central region getting this newspaper on her dinner table growing up, it helped her understand the community she now serves.

In May 2019, Terri was awarded Alberta Weekly Newspaper Association (AWNA) Canada's Energy Citizens Photographic Awards Sports Action – First Place as well as first for the same sports action image nationally with the Canadian Community Newspaper Association (CCNA). Fast forward to 2020, she has won second in the same category for the AWNA.

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