A fight between the City of Chestermere and the government of Alberta is heating up after revelations the province intends to dismiss city council and top city administrators from their roles.
It comes after the provincial government launched a probe into governance at the City of Chestermere in May 2022, which found 25 instances of mismanagement and another 17 legislative infractions.
The 215-page inspection report, which was released in March of this year, also noted strong division within city council, improper and irregular treatment of staff by councillors, and an exodus of 62 employees during the timeframe of the review.
As a result, a list of a dozen directives was issued for Chestermere city council to complete, and an official administrator was put in place to monitor the situation.
However, the ministry of municipal affairs confirmed Tuesday that Minister Ric McIver has provided notice that he intends to fire the mayor, city council, and all three chief administrative officers in the city.
“As a result of the city’s actions surrounding some of the directives that were issued March 15, 2023, and from reports of the Official Administrator who is currently in place, on Oct. 18, 2023, Alberta’s Minister of Municipal Affairs provided the members of Chestermere city council and the chief administrative officers (CAOs) with notice of his intention to issue a ministerial order which would dismiss all seven council members from office, as well as all three CAOs,” a ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
The statement went on to say that members of city council and the chief administrative officers were provided an opportunity to respond to the notice.
“The minister will consider all responses received by this date before making a decision,” the statement read.
In response, Chestermere city officials called the move “unfair and unjust treatment,” and insisted they completed the directives issued by the minister with “diligence, honesty, and transparency.”
In September, the City of Chestermere filed an application for a judicial review into the provincial probe, citing “continual interference and ongoing harassment” from the minister and concerns with the provincial investigation.
Officials also noted the city plans to use part of a $6 million surplus to fund the legal battle.
The city plans to file an injunction on Thursday to “ensure the judicial review is heard, stopping any removal of Council and CAOs.”
“I am confident this matter will be put to rest as a result of the court proceedings. It is council’s and CAO’s sincere belief the truth must come out for this entire situation to finally be resolved,” Chestermere mayor Jeff Colvin said in a statement. “Residents deserve to have our past cleaned up, to strengthen our future.”
Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary, called the issue an “extraordinary circumstance” but “justified.”
“We’ve had battles on councils before, we’ve had investigations of councils, we’ve had disputes between senior admin and councils, but nothing even remarkably approaching what has been going on in Chestermere,” Bratt told Global News.”I think the government of Alberta is entirely justified in the actions that it’s about to take. They’ve tried everything else.”
The ministry of municipal affairs did not provide a timeline as to when a decision would be made.
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