4 Chestermere councillors, 3 administrative officers dismissed
Posted December 4, 2023 5:27 pm.
Four City of Chestermere’s municipal councillors and all three chief administrative officers (CAOs) were relieved of their duties by the province on Monday.
Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued a ministerial order dismissing the councillors and CAOs after the city failed to comply with the supervision of the official administrator and some of the minister’s directives from earlier in the year.
Chestermere Mayor Jeff Colvin, coun. Mel Foat, coun. Blaine Funk, and coun. Stephen Hanley were all dismissed.
“For many months, Alberta’s government has been carefully following our legislative process in our response to concerns raised by citizens starting in January 2022, about the conduct of Chestermere City Council,” said McIver.
The minister adds Municipal Affairs conducted a months-long review and inspection process, which led to 12 directives from the previous minister of Municipal Affairs, Rebecca Schulz, being issued on March 15, 2023.
Since the directives were issued, the province says “the City of Chestermere has continued to be run in an irregular, improper, and improvident manner.”
McIver says instead of complying with its legal requirements, “the City has attacked the integrity of the government’s inspection process and anyone associated with it and tried to establish a narrative that brings in elements that are not related to the inspection, or the directives, or the correction of their actions.”
McIver adds the dismissal of coun. Shannon Dean, coun. Sandy Johal-Watt, and coun. 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.”
“The directives issued by my predecessor are not onerous and represent the bare minimum that citizens ought to expect from their municipal government. However, after undertaking all reasonable efforts to have the city comply with its obligations, it has failed to do so. 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,” said McIver in a statement.
Dean, Johal-Watt, and Narayan will remain as elected councillors but will have no role in the governance until the city holds a byelection and council can be restored.
In the meantime, an official administrator, who has been in place since September 2022, will act as council until the byelection is held. During this time, an interim CAO will also be brought in to oversee the City of Chestermere’s operations.
Residents of Chestermere will be receiving a letter to explain the dismissals and what can be expected until a byelection is held.
“I want to reassure the citizens of Chestermere that municipal services will be delivered without interruption,” said McIver. “To the people of Chestermere, rest assured, your rec facilities will remain open. Your roads will be plowed. Your garbage will be collected.”