Voters in the Village of Donalda and the Village of Gadsby will have their say on the future of their municipalities when they go to the polls to cast ballots that could dissolve the municipalities into the County of Stettler.
Non-binding votes will be held at Donalda Coulee Friendship Centre on March 30 and at Gadsby Bank Building on March 31, both days from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Information meetings are scheduled for Donalda Community Hall on March 23 and Gadsby Bank Building on March 24, both events beginning at 7 p.m. led by staff of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
“The dissolution study report, feedback from the village and county councils and residents, and the result of the vote, will assist me in deciding whether to recommend to cabinet the dissolution of the Village of Donalda – Gadsby,” Municipal Affairs Minister Hector Goudreau stated in letters to the county.
Ballots will simply ask voters if they are in favour of dissolving their village (municipality) and becoming part of the county.
Both councils are urging voters to cast their ballots.
“Whether we want it or not, it’s the minister’s decision,” said Gadsby Mayor Fred Entwisle who had little to say about the issue at this time.
“Attending the public meeting is very important if residents are at all interested in the future of the village,” said Donalda Mayor Terry Nordahl.
“Dissolution means there will no longer be a village (municipality) and the loss of local decision-making on countless issues.”
Based on the information provided by the County of Stettler for the dissolution study, she said it is impossible to say what the circumstances will be for the village, as she acknowledged that some local services that the village provides certainly cannot and will not be provided by the county.
“I think it is important for residents to ask questions of county council if they want specifics on this,” said Mayor Nordahl.
During the information meetings, Municipal Affairs staff will explain dissolution and its affects and outline and answer questions from citizens about the information in the dissolution study report that have been delivered to residents and property owners.
A dissolution study examines the finances, services and governance of the municipality, providing information for the minister and residents and also projects the likely scenario if the municipality were to dissolve and become part of a surrounding municipality.
The dissolution study for Donalda follows an inquiry in January 2003 when a municipal affairs inspector responded to a petition and determined “the municipality was not managed in an irregular, improper or improvident manner,” but recommended 15 points to improve the general operation of the village.
“Since concerns appear to be unresolved following the previous inspection, the minister (then Ray Danyluk) decided to undertake a dissolution study,” states the report.
If the village – Donalda and/or Gadsby – is dissolved, administration, utilities, bylaws, maintenance and taxation would come under the county.
On county council, the village would be represented by the current wards representing Donalda – Red Willow and the Gadsby.ward.
Community organizations would not be required to change and would be able to access recreation funding from the county.
Fire protection would continue to be served by the Donalda fire station and the county is interested in maintaining Donalda public library.
Dissolution study reports are available at Donalda and Gadsby village offices.