Village of Halkirk at sunset, May 25, 2022. (Kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)

Village of Halkirk at sunset, May 25, 2022. (Kevin Sabo/Stettler Independent)

Under currents of anger in Halkirk

‘This bylaw thing is pitting neighbour against neighbour,’

The Village of Halkirk council was again under fire during their Sept. 21 meeting.

Around 20 residents of the village attended the regular meeting of council, with five registered as delegates to speak on various matters.

Speaking on the business bylaw, Gerry Binnie and his wife attended the meeting seeking clarification on the business bylaw approved by council at a previous meeting.

Binnie and his wife, dog breeders in the community for nearly 30 years, have been informed that under the new business bylaw breeding has been removed as an allowable business and were wondering why.

“In the process, the bylaw went through different drafts,” said chief administrative officer Tamara Sloboda.

“In the last draft, council decided to remove breeding from the business bylaw.”

Binnie had been under the impression that his business would be grandfathered in, however that was clarified that under the animal bylaw people with pets over the maximum allowable are allowed to keep them, but not replace them when they die.

However, the grandfathering in of excess animals does not apply to animals considered breeding assets.

“We don’t want breeding in the village,” said Coun. Dale Kent.

The new bylaw is already chasing people out of town.

Damien Binnie-Brown, who only returned to the community in the last two years to set up a miniature bulldog breeding operation in the village is now already planning a move away he said in a recent interview.

“This bylaw thing is pitting neighbour against neighbour,” said Binnie-Brown.

“Certain people make certain assumptions.”

Binnie-Brown says though the lots in town are smaller, his is 100 feet by 50 feet, there is more than enough room for his 13 dogs in their individual kennels.

However, he says that over the last few months he’s had the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and children’s services called on him and his wife due to the conflict and tension in the village.

Neither the SPCA or Children’s Services found any evidence of wrongdoing.

“It’s insane and insulting,” said Binnie-Brown.

While Binnie-Brown and his wife are able to start fresh somewhere else, he says he worries about his in-laws.

“They want to make it harder for people to live,” said Binnie-Brown.

“They’re going to lose more people.”

According to Gerry Binnie, he feels that council is making up the rules as they go and that a number of complaints have made to Municipal Affairs regarding Sloboda and council.

“The ministry has received a small number of complaints from Halkirk residents since spring this year,” said Scott Johnston, the Municipal Affairs press secretary.

“The complaints have been about matters that the locally elected council has full authority to address. Ministry staff has provided those residents who have contacted us with information on options for them to address their concerns with council. Because the issues raised are matters that council has authority to address, the ministry has no intent to take further action at this time.”

Halkirk has been having to update and establish new bylaws to get their books up-to-date as a result of the viability review vote which occurred in 2021.

The village is under a ministerial order to get their documents sorted out and come up with a long-term plan to remain viable as the majority of residents voted to remain as an independent municipality rather than fold into the County of Paintearth as a hamlet.

Mayor Thomas Schmidt acknowledges the building anger in town.

“I know people are not happy right now,” said Schmidt.

“The only thing that will change is if people step up and run in the next election. I did.”

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