Thursday, November 1, 2012

Ratepayers Petition Give the process a chance.

I am sure by now most people have read the response from municipal affairs to a friend of John’s after that individual had wrote a letter to Municipal affairs regarding the present situation in the Crowsnest Pass.

How will Municipal affairs respond to the concerns raised by residents of the Crowsnest Pass?

On an individual basis I expected nothing less than what you see in the letter on Mr Prince’s Blog. From my reading of the MGA there is no legal requirement for the minister to do anything unless the threshold of 20% is reached.

There is a difference between an individual complaint to Municipal Affairs and the petition that will be delivered to the minister’s office. First of all if Municipal affairs looked at what was going on in a community every time somebody complained they would need a staff of hundreds. That is why there is a process in place that requires a substantial number of voters to speak up before they do take a look at a municipality. Let’s face it even if one hundred individual complaints came from the Crowsnest Pass to the government that sounds like a lot but it’s less than two percent of the population.  

We all recognize that municipal politicians have to face the test of the public every three years, for the most part that process should be respected and it is. There are very rare occasions where governments do not represent the wishes or direction of the people that put them in office, at provincial and federal levels you have official oppositions to keep government accountable and to point out when they are misleading the voters.
In Alberta Municipal politics you do not have official oppositions to make government accountable, councils are made up of seven individuals that are suppose to have their own minds, be willing to speak up and represent all the members of their communities. Again for the most part this takes place but for when the system fails or a substantial part of public has a clear disagreement with the direction their community is being led, then under the MGA you have the right to start a petition. It is not an easy feat you must collect 20% of the populations signatures on a piece of paper in 30 days maximum.

Only then will you get municipal affairs to look at what’s going on in our community, first of all they will validate that you have 20% of the population, we all remember a petition failed previously because it could not reach that number. There will not be a problem there, with over  40% of the population signed in just 20 days. It would be hard to believe that just this fact alone would not catch the attention of Municipal Affairs. Then I believe they will take a closer look at what is going on here, I think they will talk to the Council, administration and the Ratepayers executive.

Will anything happen from there? That’s the million dollar question that only municipal affairs can answer. Is there any guarantee’s that Municipal affairs will do anything? None at all. I do know for sure that they will not look at our issues based on one or even a hundred taxpayers letters, complaints or phone calls.

If the petition fails, we could have done nothing but the people of the Crowsnest Pass choose to use part of the democratic process provided to them by the Alberta government under the MGA. "53% of the eligible voters choice to exercise that right" 

At a minimum to have 2500 people sign a petition in less than three weeks should send a message to somebody.


Anonymous said...

What about those of us who have not signed the petition, and are prepared to deal with the democratic process of an election? Mass hysteria and anarchy seem to have taken over here. It is truly very sad, and it is abundantly clear that a precedent is being set. Woe betide anyone who has the misfortune to be on the next Council. I believe that there are very good and nice people here who have been caught up in this whirlwind, and just might be having second thoughts about this whole process. We can only hope.

Anonymous said...

"In Alberta Municipal politics you do not have official oppositions to make government accountable"

On the provincial level, opposition MLAs have only their votes in the legislature (not much threat to a majority regime) and the chance to demand answers from the government in question period. On the municipal level we don't have question period. We don't even have a "government" in that sense.

We need to know our rights and the powers and duties of councillors
(flip sides of the same coin).

Whatever you think of the new improved RumRunnerDays, the spending was unauthorised, uncontrolled and unaccounted for. We don't even know who was writing the cheques and signing the contracts.

A single "opposition" councillor could not do anything about this.

Citizens have the right to get this information through FOIP (although we would have to be persistent and be careful to ask the right questions).

We do have some legal recourse. Councillors are personally liable for making unauthorised expenditures and are disqualified from office. I'm not sure of the situation of administration staff. In a private company I think they could be fired, sued and prosecuted for making unauthorised expenditures.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God, and the witch hunt continues.
Plus, I have never seen a government employee ever being sued for expenditures.
Yes,I wonder what calibre of people we will have running next council. Old cronies that want to get back in probably.

Anonymous said...

Anarchy, mass hysteria? Pretty big words. If this is how the council sees the community, no wonder the petition is such a quick success.

Anonymous said...

It's fine the province can do what they want. Correct
Now we are in November less than 11 months to go when we the people will have the ultimate say.

Anonymous said...

Dogpatch was "an average stone-age community nestled in a bleak valley, between two cheap and uninteresting hills somewhere." The inhabitants were mostly lazy hillbillies, who usually wanted nothing to do with progress.

Anonymous said...

There is a petty witch hunt In proteas indeed. This plainly obvious to most of us.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:56 said:
"Oh my God, and the witch hunt continues."

Most of these guys claimed to be educated and experienced and all about proper policies, procedures, transparency and ACCOUNTABILITY (Emile's caps).

Instead they have a pattern of doing things through informal, unofficial, secretive channels.

Is it too much to ask that they authorise spending (in advance) on RRD and put someone in charge and accountable?

Anonymous said...

The mayor said that RRD should have nothing to do with the municipality.
I don't think Calgary city council organizes the stampede. Got to look at the whole picture, not just specific things that interest specific people.

Anonymous said...

A small community like ours cannot be run like Calgary, or even Lethbridge, for that matter. There are many reasons for this, but money is the most important treason. The next council will have to untangle this mess and bring us back to reality. You don't have to be educated to sit on council, but you have to be reasonable.

Anonymous said...

"The mayor said that RRD should have nothing to do with the municipality.
I don't think Calgary city council organizes the stampede."

Yes, RRD has been not been given any official status by Council resolution. But somehow RRD (or someone, we don't know who) has spent around $100,000 of municipal funds. That's what stinks.

There are other examples of this sort of unauthorized spending that we know of. It makes me wonder, what else don't we know of?

The Stampede is an independent non-profit with it's own budget.

Anonymous said...

You people in the Crowsnest Pass need to remember you were part of the Southern Alberta Wildrose Tide. Do you really think this Conservative government will do anything for you.
Look at Fort Macleod and their training academy.

Your were done before you begun.


Crowsnest Pass Home said...

Another municipal affairs response to one of our residents.

Dear Mr.

Thank you for your recent correspondence regarding fire services and the local governance and administration for the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass.

Under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), municipalities are charged with the responsibility to provide good government; to provide services, facilities or other things that, in the opinion of council, are necessary or desirable for all or a part of the municipality; and to develop and maintain safe and viable communities. These are broad and important responsibilities, and their implementation involves managing and balancing resources to meet a multitude of both current and future community needs.

The powers of a municipal council are balanced by councils’ accountability to the citizens who elect them. It is, therefore, essential that citizens take an active interest in the development and direction of our local governments and express their views to their locally elected representatives. Citizens can express their views to their municipality in a number of ways.

Individuals or groups may write or meet with the municipality’s administration or elected officials. Your municipality may have a specific process established for providing input, and you should contact the municipal office regarding how to submit or present your issue.

The MGA sets out clear requirements for municipal councils to conduct their business openly (except in very limited and specific circumstances). You may attend council meetings, and some municipalities provide for public input or presentations at specific times during meetings. Your municipal office should be able to provide you with details about this process.

Finally, the MGA and the Local Authorities Election Act also cumulatively set out provisions for regular elections of local councils, representing the ultimate assurance of accountability.

The Province of Alberta is responsible for establishing this legislative framework for local government, but does not have a role in settling disagreements about matters that are the responsibility of municipal governments and their electors. The validity of local democracy would be substantively undermined if the provincial government intervened each time a segment of a community disagreed with a decision of their elected local council.

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass has published its Community Strategic Action Plan on the municipal website, and this plan includes a direction to create one Crowsnest Pass Fire and Rescue Department with one chief and multiple substations. Additional information about the action plan, the Fire Services Master Plan Review, and supplementary financial and budget information is included in a recent press release entitled “Public Information Communication,” which is also posted on the municipal website.

I respect the work that the Crowsnest Pass council and administration has done in bringing forward the Community Strategic Action Plan 2012 - 2014, and the work they are doing in the review of the Fire Services Master Plan. I will continue to support their efforts to carry out their legislated responsibilities.

Thank you again for writing.


Doug Griffiths


Anonymous said...

Is anyone really shocked by this letter from the Minister? Did anyone really believe that an unelected Rate Payer's Association should be entitled to run this place?

Perhaps now, some common sense will prevail. It is clearly one thing to have an issue with what Council is doing, and quite another to band together, as some people have said- to create a witch hunt.

Our community is looking silly enough as it is. It's time to grow up and get on with positive things. The negativity here is quite disturbing.

Anonymous said...

Doug Griffiths wrote:

"The MGA sets out clear requirements for municipal councils to conduct their business openly (except in very limited and specific circumstances)."

Dean, I think you did some numbers on this. After the routine agenda items, what percentage of the remaining time is spent in camera?

Anonymous said...

So Mr 11:54 why put the right to a petition in the MGA? Why set a limit of 20%?
So are we the residents suppose to just accept what ever Council/administration wants to do?
So do you agree with every thing that is going on?

Positive things? are we talking about the Holiday Inn? are we talking about the Quebec manufacturer? are we talking about the heavy industry with 700 jobs? are we talking about the flood of people lined up at the municipality to volunteer? are we talking about the lovely new carpet at the municipal office? or are we talking about having to pay through our teeth? to live in this Garden of Eden?

Go back and read the municipal press releases if you want to see silly!!!!!!!!!

One angry taxpayer thats tired of being ignored by the people we pay our taxes to support.

Chloe said...

Anon 2:12
Your post is the best thing I have read to date that didn't include name calling. One can feel your deep frustration through the screen. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:54 The right for the petition is there. Maybe you are happy with this council and thats ok. But a very strong majority is not happy.If you were not happy do you not think it is good that there is something that the people can do?What if we had a council that voted to give themselves all a full time job and pay themselves huge salaries with lavish trips or anything crazy like that.Would you not like to have the power to do something about it?Or would you think that it would be ok to just wait until the next election?

Anonymous said...

The right to the petition is there for a reason. The minister may or may not do anything about it. It is obvious that the explanations flying to Edmonton are searching high and low to explain the local unhappines. If you throw everything up, something may even stick. All this is besides the point. With this many names on the petition, even the most obtuse of the local politicians will likely (finally) realize that something is not right. One hopes, at least.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:46 wrote:
"The right to the petition is there for a reason. The minister may or may not do anything about it."

The MGA sections about open meetings, unauthorised spending (and disqualification of councillors for it) and the FOIP law are also there for a reason.

The minister may be justified in doing nothing if we have not used the available legal remedies.