The Village of Alix wants to make its office a safer place to work and is looking into enforcing its bylaw that stipulates a zero tolerance towards abuse and bullying.
Mayor Arlene Nelson, during Alix’s regular meeting May 17, suggested that council direct its Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Troy Jenkins to look into the process of enforcing the village’s zero tolerance bylaw to make it a safe and secure environment for staff.
Coun. Curt Peterson agreed saying council should enforce its policy.
Coun. Rob Fehr said there are concerns for the security and safety of staff in the building.
“There have been a number of incidents,” he said, although not providing the details.
“Have the CAO look into the matter and address that to make this a more safe and secure environment where people can work and do their jobs effectively. It’s something we need to look at seriously and develop a strategy.”
Council unanimously voted in favour of a motion to look into how they could enforce its zero tolerance policy.
At a February council meeting Mayor Nelson condemned what she called bullying, both verbal and physical. She said that bullying was rampant in the community with everyone from council, staff, local business owners and private citizens being targets in various venues including in person, online and in social media.
Mayor Nelson said that bullying has been rampant in Alix for the past two years and was perpetuated by a “small band of negative people.”
Tensions have been simmering between some residents and council for the past two years. Last March a group of Alix residents submitted two petitions to Municipal Affairs with about 300 signatures each asking the government to investigate the village council and administration.
Alix has about 400 registered voters. The group’s petitions cited high taxes and how the village spent tax dollars as reasons for one petition. The second petition asked Municipal Affairs to determine the viability of the municipality.
Last August Municipal Affairs held a preliminary review and screening in Alix. They met with Alix residents as well as the chief administrative officer and council. The review was conducted to determine if an in-depth review was warranted.
In November, the Minister of Municipal Affairs told the petitioners that the review identified concerns that justified an in-depth review and ordered a municipal inspection.
Earlier this year, Municipal Affairs appointed an investigator to investigate the village’s management, administration and operations in response to the two resident petitions.
Once the inspection is complete, the inspector will give the report to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. After the minister accepts the report, Alix council will receive a copy.
Municipal inspector Ted Gillespie said that the report will hopefully be presented to residents before the next municipal election.
If the investigation determines that the village is being managed in an irregular, improper or improvident manner, the minister can order council, the CAO or a designated officer to make changes.
Any directives given will have timelines for action to be completed and if they aren’t carried out to the minister’s satisfaction, more directives could be issued or the council or administration dismissed.
Village of Alix tabled its 2017 operating budget to a future meeting.
ECA Review reporter