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Accused in Chestermere city hall assault case pleads not guilty

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The City of Chestermere staff member charged with assaulting another staff member entered a not guilty plea.

Kim Wallace, the City of Chestermere's director of corporate services, issued a statement saying her lawyer Alain Hepner entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf at Strathmore provincial court on March 21.

"Presumed Innocent ... I am innocent of the charge brought against me and I look forward to being able to clear my good name in court, before a judge, who will hear all the facts of the case. I have plead(ed) not guilty and await for the court date to be announced," Wallace said in her statement.

The charges stems from a Jan. 26 incident at Chestermere city hall that resulted in an RCMP investigation.

In her statement, Wallace highlighted section 11(d) of the Canadian Charter of Rights, which, she said, "guarantees the right of any person charged with an offence to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt."

"For those in our community, who have pre-judged me without knowing any of the facts, I remind them of what it means to be Canadian, to live in a country where we value our freedom and our rights," she said. "I have the right, just as we all do, to be presumed innocent. We all deserve the right to an unbiased opinion until the facts of a case are heard in a court of law.  

"Spreading rumours and gossip only serves to harm, rather than build up our community. Chestermere is a beautiful place to live," she added. "We should not allow the toxicity created by lies and rumours to permeate our city. 

"I ask all of us, no matter what the situation, wait until both sides are heard before forming an opinion of others.  

"Let's work together to create a community we are proud of, where morals and values win over gossip and rumours."

Wallace is scheduled to appear in court on April 4.

STRING OF CONTROVERSIES

The assault accusation against Wallace is one in a string of controversies the City of Chestermere has found itself embroiled in, with three separate investigations launched in the past year.

Council voted to look into its own “irregular” finances last summer, hiring a third party to review $600,000 severance packages handed out to two former city employees.

The province also began looking into Chestermere’s governance after three councillors — Sandy Johal-Watt, Shannon Dean and Ritesh Narayan — sent complaints to the province in 2022 about the actions of Mayor Jeff Colvin, Deputy Mayor Mel Foat and councillors Stephen Hanley and Blaine Funk.

Council had also ordered another third-party investigation into its own utilities company, formerly known as Chestermere Utilities Inc., last year after audits found millions of dollars unaccounted for or missing.

An inspection by the department of municipal affairs in December was criticized by city hall according to the mayor, because the report possibly exposed what the investigation found.

Council sent it back to the province.

“Our goal with this inspection has always been to help Chestermere city council function properly in the service of Chestermere residents,” said Alex Puddifant, chief of staff for the office of the minister of municipal affairs."

Last week, Alberta's minister of municipal affairs Rebecca Schultz handed down a dozen directives to the City of Chestermere, after a third-party investigator found the city "is being managed improperly, irregularly and improvidently." Council and administration would risk losing their jobs if the directives are not followed.

With files from Tyson Fedor

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