Chestermere has led in an “irregular” and “inappropriate” manner, says the Minister for Local Affairs

The results of a provincial inquiry by Chestermere City Council were made public to Chestermere residents on Wednesday.  (Bryan Labby/CBC - photo credit)

The results of a provincial inquiry by Chestermere City Council were made public to Chestermere residents on Wednesday. (Bryan Labby/CBC – photo credit)

After a months-long investigation into allegations of improper conduct by Chestermere City Council, Alberta’s Minister for Local Affairs says the city is being run in “irregular, improper and careless ways” and its leaders are now required to abide by 12 mandatory guidelines.

The findings of the inspection – which the province described as a rare and exceptional measure – were shared with hundreds of Chestermere residents on Wednesday during a public gathering in the lakeside community east of Calgary.

The inquiry was launched last spring after the province received dozens of complaints from Chestermere residents and found the local council to be “dysfunctional”. The inspection took place between last May and September.

25 cases of mismanagement by local government were identified, including at least 17 violations of the law.

“I fully recognize that many of the councilors were elected for the first time. They were new to the local government business when the problems started,” said City Councilor Rebecca Schulz.

“But at the same time the problems have been going on for 18 months now and enough is enough. We have to tackle them.”

Each City Council member saw the first draft of the report in November and was given the opportunity to share their views with the province.

The report

In the 215-page inspection report, local governance adviser George Cuff analyzed Chestermere’s governance from the October 2021 Council election to the September 2022 report delivery.

Cuff highlighted a strong split between council members, where a “block of three council members” is perceived. He said some councilors have reported feeling bullied and humiliated by the mayor and other council members.

His findings also showed that Mayor Jeff Colvin violated several policies “by engaging in private discussions about council issues with specific members, by involving only specific council members on issues rather than the entire council, by bullying one or more council members.”

Cuff said Colvin believes significant changes must be made if he is to be a successful leader, and that can be achieved if he can retain close supporters on the council.

According to Cuff, at the time of the review, 62 employees had left the company — four retired, 19 involuntarily and 39 of their own accord.

City of Chestermere

City of Chestermere

Some other key concerns identified in the report include:

  • Irregular Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) model in which administrative duties are performed by a few council members.

  • Improper process of handling complaints about the Code of Conduct.

  • Improper and erratic contact between council members and staff.

  • Improper and irregular treatment of employees by Council members.

  • Late filing of audited financial statements.

The report also includes 16 recommendations to improve local governance.

“We hope and pray that the Council will begin to understand its potential as a collective body, as opposed to individual actors focused on their own agendas.”

Formal guidelines for the City of Chestermere

Chestermere City Council and Government now have to implement a dozen of Schulz’s directives by the deadlines set.

Policies include hiring an advisor to review the effectiveness of the city’s three-CAO structure, as well as an advisor to resolve conflicts between council members.

The city is also required to provide the minister with a list of all code of conduct complaints and a list of all property sales with full details since last October.

Mike Symington/CBC

Mike Symington/CBC

The Council needs to review its current rules of procedure and Council members are no longer able to carry out the duties assigned to CAOs.

To ensure the City is taking action, it must submit a progress report to the Minister by the 20th of every other month until all instructions have been completed to the Minister’s satisfaction.

According to Schulz, if the guidelines are not met, further sanctions can be imposed – including the dismissal of city councilors and CAOs.

“Initial concerns” with report, findings

According to an email statement from the City of Chestermere, the Mayor and Council have “initial concerns” about some of the report’s findings, the review process, the report’s recommendations and the Minister’s instructions.

But as recommended by Cuff and Schulz, the City Council will immediately consult with legal counsel on the report and policy.

“Counsel will consider options, although no decision on action has been made at this time and no decisions will be made without due consideration,” the statement said.

The statement said the City remains committed to providing good government to Chestermere residents.


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