County sets special meeting to choose how to proceed
A petition by county residents calling for a vote on a controversial borrowing bylaw was declared sufficient by County of Stettler CAO Tim Fox at the regular council meeting on Wednesday, March 9.
The petition, which was delivered with roughly 1,100 signatures on Monday, March 7, was reviewed by Fox to determine if the signatures were eligible and valid. Five-hundred-and-eleven signatures were required to meet the 10 per cent obligation for a petition as per the Municipal Government Act (MGA), and the signatures had to be of county residents over the age of 18, and include valid land addresses.
Council voted to accept Fox’s assertion that the petition was valid, and accepted the petition as information. A special county meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, March 22 at 9 a.m., where councillors will vote on how to proceed.
At this point, council has two options available to them. Council can vote to kill the bylaw, which would prevent the need for a plebiscite, or they could continue with the bylaw, which would require a plebiscite to determine the next step.
If a vote was held, and the county residents voted against proceeding with the bylaw, the bylaw would be killed. If they voted in favour of keeping the bylaw, councillors would be required to vote in favour of the bylaw.
Other avenues are available to council if it decides to kill the bylaw as it currently stands, such as submitting a new borrowing bylaw with different values, or funding the entire construction out of pocket.
Councillors also voted in favour of beginning an intrusive study of the existing shop facility, which is more than six decades old. The study would determine what is absolutely necessary to have the building brought up to code, as well as identify potential health risks such as electrical deficiencies or mould.
Staff advised council that the cost for the study would be roughly $40,000. The cost of repairs and upgrades would not be known until the study was done.
Council inquired of staff whether the intrusive study could result in the building being condemned or temporarily made unavailable for use due to safety reasons.
“That is always a possibility,” responded Rick Green, director of engineering for the county. “The health and safety of our employees comes first.”