October 3, 2019
Wabamun Council considers restructuring options and resident feedback
Village of Wabamun administration received a petition package on September 11, 2019. The petition requested that the village amend motion M#19-166, which was passed on April 2, 2019, to read as follows:
‘Administration to send a letter to Parkland County to inform Parkland County Council that the Village of Wabamun is prepared to enter into amalgamation negotiations with Parkland County with the objective of these negotiations being to dissolve the village resulting in Wabamun becoming a Hamlet under the jurisdiction of Parkland County and that these negotiations commence immediately.’
Administration reported on the petition’s receipt at the September 17, 2019 council meeting and noted his obligation, based on the MGA, to review the petition to determine sufficiency and the requirement to report back to council within 45 days.
Council had heard through the extensive strategic planning exercises conducted in the spring/summer that there was some appetite to explore options related to amalgamation or dissolution (viability review). Mayor Smylie had made a notice of motion at the September 3 meeting of Council to have a viability review added to the October 1, 2019 agenda for consideration. This agenda item was tabled at the October 1 meeting.
Municipal Affairs representatives, Marnie Lee and Roy Bedford, were invited to attend the October 1, 2019 Council meeting and provided a presentation on re-structuring options, including amalgamation and dissolution. They discussed the differences and the processes involved in each option. They suggested both processes can be lengthy and require extensive public consultation. More information on these processes can be found on the Municipal Affairs website.
During the October 1, 2019 council meeting, the CAO presented his report on the recent petition’s sufficiency. He declared the petition calling on the Village to “amend motion M#19-166” as insufficient by virtue of section 233(2) of the MGA because the petition was not received within 60 days after the day on which the resolution #19-166 was passed, being April 2, 2019. Section 226 (3) of the MGA states that ‘If a petition is not sufficient, the council or the Minister is not required to take any notice of it.’ None the less, administration did endeavor to determine the technical sufficiency of the names on the petition.
The petition contained 293 names, 23 names were removed for various reasons related to MGA requirements, leaving the total numbers of names deemed to be technically sufficient at 270. Council, having just received the sufficiency report on the petition, accepted it as information.
Despite the petition being deemed insufficient, Council is now reviewing the information provided. Council also hopes to meet with the Minister of Municipal Affairs and will continue to meet with Parkland County to discuss options moving forward.
Amalgamation – requires negotiation that could include, but not be limited to, proposed council structure, finances, future viability, assessment, taxation, human resources, legal and agreements with other parties, priorities, challenges, infrastructure and municipal services. Public votes are not required but can be an option. Amalgamations require extensive public consultation in both municipalities along with Minister and Cabinet approval.
Dissolution – requires a viability review which is an objective review of a municipality’s governance, finances, infrastructure and services and endeavors to provide options on how the municipality can become viable in the future. An infrastructure assessment, extensive public consultation in the Village and a binding public vote are also required.