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Alberta’s municipal affairs minister hands down a dozen directives to the City of Chestermere


The City of Chestermere is being managed improperly, irregularly and improvidently, according to the province.

A 200-page inspection report found various issues and concerns with the current mayor and council, who will now have to complete a set of 12 directives.

Failure to do so could result in their removal by the province.

Around 300 people filled Chestermere's recreation centre to hear the results of a lengthy provincial investigation into irregularities on council that began a year ago.

The investigation was led by third-party inspector George Cuff, who found the city struggles with consistency.

"During the time that we did the review, approximately 60 people left in a year," Cuff said.

Cuff found a deep divide among council, including Mayor Jeff Colvin electing to function without managerial assistance.

The province accepted the inspector's recommendations and has laid out 12 directives for council to follow, or they risk losing their jobs.

"They were new to the business of municipal governance when the problems started, but at the same time, the problems have been going on for 18 months now and enough is enough. We need to address them," said Rebecca Schulz, minister of municipal affairs.

Schulz says removing a council member under the municipal governance act is not easy, despite what some residents may think.

"This is not to be a punitive process. This is to be corrective in nature," Schulz said.

Schulz's directives, in part, require the City of Chestermere to:

  • Hire an auditing firm to submit outstanding financial statements for the previous two years;
  • Review its procedural bylaws and provide an action plan; and
  • Submit to the province all code-of-conduct complaints and discontinue exercising power struggles on council.

The minister also wants a list of all municipal land sales since October 2021.

"I would say the directives we've put forward are not onerous. They are things that are expected of all municipalities from across Alberta," Schulz said.

Residents say they were not surprised by the report but do not agree with the timelines set for each directive.

"We've been dealing with this for a number of months in this community and nothing has changed and now they have until the end of this year to deal with it," said Christopher Steeves, Chestermere resident.

Three members of council were present for the report, but the mayor watched online from city hall.

"I think it was cowardly and I think everyone in this room thought it was cowardly. I think he's waiting for a response to decide whether he's going to resign or stay on as mayor. I think the right thing to do is listen to the directives and get on with work," said Rob Wawrzynowski, Chestermere resident.

The City of Chestermere issued a statement Wednesday night:

"The mayor and council will be reviewing the recommendations and the directives of the minister carefully over the very near term. As recommended by both George Cuff and the minister, mayor and council will be consulting immediately with legal counsel regarding the report and the directives of the minister," the statement read.

"There is some initial concern regarding some of the findings in the Cuff report, the process by which the report was arrived at, the recommendations in the report and the directives of the minister – legal counsel will be reviewing options, although at this point no decision has been made regarding any actions and no decisions will be made without due consideration.

"The city is committed to continuing to provide good government to all of its residents by being a positive environment, a functioning legislative and administrative body and a competent and effective municipal government in order to properly serve its citizens and the public at large."

The city said it would make the inspection report available to the public online and in print – an act that was also among the directives from the province.

Officials say an official administrator has been appointed to supervise council and will remain in place until at least the end of December, but may remain longer if the minister deems it necessary.

(With files from Damien Wood) Top Stories

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