Elnora resident petition for inspection of village turned down by provincial minister

Written by Stu Salkeld

A petition from Village of Elnora residents claiming serious problems with the municipality’s governance has failed to bring closer provincial government attention to the municipality. The decision of the Minister of Municipal Affairs was discussed at the Feb. 13 regular meeting of council.

Minister Ric McIvor told Elnora village council in a letter that his department received a resident petition asking for a government inspection and investigated the claims contained but didn’t find serious problems.

“The preliminary review explored the concerns and issues that led to the petition,” stated McIvor’s letter dated Jan. 19.

“While the review identified some concerns from the petitioners surrounding council’s transparency with residents in communicating local government decisions; the process undertaken for the sale of the former municipal library property; and allegations of concerns with the performance of the chief administrative officer (CAO), I am satisfied the village is operating within its authority and has been made aware of its obligations with respect to legislative requirements for the sale of municipal property.

“For these reasons, I do not believe the situation warrants a full inspection at this time.”

During discussion of this item, CAO Sharon Wesgate stated to council essentially what the letter meant is that there will not be an inspection because the village has been following the rules of the Municipal Government Act (MGA). Wesgate noted the letter will be placed on the village’s website for the public’s perusal.

McIvor’s letter did include some advice for the village council on roles, responsibilities and transparency, however.

“I expect the village will make every effort to ensure its governance and administration is conducted in good faith in accordance with the legislated requirements going forward,” stated the minister in his letter.

“I encourage the village to access the advisory supports available through Municipal Affairs to assist in ensuring compliance with legislated procedures and processes. I have asked ministry staff to continue to provide advisory support to the village and monitor any ongoing concerns raised by residents.

“I also believe the village would benefit from a role and responsibilities workshop conducted by ministry staff. This workshop would include topics of municipal land sales and building positive relations with the public, among other relevant topics.

“I believe this workshop would be a positive signal to residents that the village is committed to continuous improvement for the betterment of the community.”

The CAO noted in the agenda memo that she could schedule the sessions mentioned if councillors chose.

The letter was accepted unanimously as information.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.