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4 Chestermere city councillors, including mayor, dismissed by Alberta government order

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Four members of Chestermere city council, including the mayor, have been dismissed by Alberta’s government due to alleged irregular and improper governance of the city.

Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued a ministerial order on Monday dismissing four of the City of Chestermere’s councillors and three chief administrative officers.

The four councillors dismissed include the mayor, Jeff Colvin, along with Mel Foat, Blaine Funk and Stephen Hanley.

“Overall, the City of Chestermere has not been compliant with its legal requirements,” the minister said during a Monday press conference.

“They have been failing to comply with the directives and the supervision of the official administrator."

The council has been under the microscope since May 2022, after the province ordered a municipal inspection of the city’s governance.

The inspection report claimed the City of Chestermere was “managed in an irregular, improper and improvident manner,” the province said in a news release.

Since then, the province says the concerns highlighted in the initial inspection have continued.

“After undertaking all reasonable efforts to have the city comply with its obligations, it has failed to do so,” McIver said in a news release Monday.

“I am profoundly disappointed that it has come to this, but the people of Chestermere deserve better. This community should be able to have trust in its local elected government.”

Some of the dismissed councillors dispute the minister’s findings and claim that McIver is biased. Despite finding out about their dismissals on Monday, they said they are not backing down.

“We are looking forward to moving this forward through the courts. We will be continuing on with our judicial review,” Colvin said Monday.

“We were surprised that it actually happened today, we just found out ourselves, but it is a serious matter and so we’ll continue to fight it in court, we’ll prove ourselves right.”

Colvin and now-former councillor Mel Foat contend that the city has been managed properly and is prospering financially.

“I don't know how they can say that we are improper, irregular or whatever. There is no city or town that has that type of a record,” Foat told CTV News.

“I plan on taking this thing to the court and the King’s Bench and if necessary, I would be prepared to take the Supreme Court of Canada because I am very disappointed that government can do this to other government.”

McIver determined that the dismissal of three other councillors – Shannon Dean, Sandy Johal-Watt and Ritesh Narayan – was not justified “given their efforts to hold council to account and attempt to move council in a more positive direction toward proper governance practices and compliance with legislation,” according to the news release.

Dean, Johal-Watt and Narayan will remain as elected councillors but will not have a role in governance until a byelection is held.

An official administrator, who was appointed by the provincial government in September 2022, and an interim chief administrative officer will oversee the city’s governance until the byelection.

The byelection will take place in 2024, but a specific date has not been chosen.

McIver sent the city a letter on Oct. 18, alerting them of his intention to dismiss all seven council members from office and the three CAOs.

The letter required responses by Nov. 2. After reviewing the responses, McIver said the city left him “no other reasonable choice.”

An independent accounting firm will be appointed to undertake a financial review of the City of Chestermere.

McIver said the results of the review will be shared with residents ahead of the byelection.

The provincial government issued 12 binding directives to the City of Chestermere in March 2023, requiring the city to address areas of concern.

The council, chief administrative officers, and Colvin previously accused McIver of "unfair and unjust treatment."

Chestermere city council launched a judicial review of the inspection report in September.

With files from CTV News Calgary’s Jordan Kanygin

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