With just 35 residents, the Village of Gadsby could soon be dissolved as the municipality undergoes a dissolution study by the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
“There are a couple of villagers unhappy with the village and put out a petition to dissolve the village although that’s not the position of everyone in the village,” said Mayor Fred Entwisle.
If dissolved, the village would become a hamlet under the County of Stettler.
Incidentally, Gadsby was incorporated as a village in 1909, making the current year their centennial anniversary.
“Council doesn’t want to go with the county at this time,” said Mayor Entwisle, serving on council for the past two years.
However, Municipal Affairs Minister Ray Danyluk has recently reported that he wants to reduce the number of smaller municipalities.
“Municipal affairs want to dissolve smaller municipalities under a certain population so it may be completely out of our hands,” said Mayor Entwisle, who notes that the village probably has fewer than the 35 residents counted in the last Census in 2006.
Gadsby is one of many municipalities in Alberta under dissolution study
Danyluk said about 60 of the province’s 359 municipalities are struggling to exist.
With that, the province has 44 villages of less than 300 people that don’t have the capacity to raise sufficient tax revenues to provide services, said Lloyd Bertschi, president of Alberta Urban Municipalities Association.
Danyluk recently appointed a chief administrative officer who determined the validity of the petition.
“The CAO found the petition for a dissolution study to be sufficient under the provisions of the Municipal Government Act, therefore I will be proceeding with a dissolution study for the Village of Gadsby,” Danyluk stated in a letter to the county.
“Before completing a dissolution study, I must contact local authorities I consider would be affected by the dissolution.”
A dissolution study would probe the financial position and sustainability of the village.
The minister of municipal affairs must conduct a dissolution study before a municipality is dissolved under several conditions, which include the municipal council requesting a study.
Ultimately, the non-binding decision to dissolve would be taken to a vote by eligible residents.
Many people signed the petition, thinking it was a document to encourage council to conduct a study to determine the differences of operating as a village or as a hamlet under the county, and not knowing it was part of an official process that could lead to actually dissolving the village by the provincial government, said Entwisle.
While many of them wanted their names removed from the petition, he said municipal affairs prohibited further changes to the petition once it was received.
Under the Act, the minister may undertake a dissolution study in respect of a municipality if the Minister believes that
• The municipality cannot balance its revenues with its required expenditures,
• The municipality is no longer viable, or
• The dissolution will lead to more effective or efficient municipal operations.