Alberta government controls bill that would give it authority over municipalities

The Alberta government is bringing back parts of a bill that would have given Premier Danielle Smith and her cabinet the power to unilaterally fire mayors and councillors.

But a spokesperson for the province’s towns, cities and villages says the changes won’t calm local leaders who fear the proposed legislation is an undemocratic overreach.

Alberta Municipalities Chairman Tyler Gandam told The Canadian Press on Thursday that he is concerned that goals for when the powers could be used have not yet been clearly laid out.

“I think we should be given the same opportunity to stand for an election every four years, no different than the province,” said Gandam, who is also mayor of Wetaskiwin, a town south of Edmonton.

Thursday’s amendments to the bill mean the Cabinet could only remove locally elected officials by ordering a recall vote, a rollback from what was previously proposed in the legislation.

The bill, as first introduced, proposed giving Smith’s cabinet the ability to fire councilors at will, behind closed doors.

Under the amendments, the cabinet could only revoke statutes that go against the Constitution or fall outside legal municipal jurisdiction.

Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver has said since the bill’s introduction that he wants feedback from municipalities.

Speaking on the House floor Thursday as he presented the amendments, McIver said the changes were based on feedback from municipalities.

“I am glad that we can provide more clarity in the legislation, as the municipalities have requested, at least some of them,” he said.

Still, Gandam has questioned McIver’s definition of meaningful consultation.

On Thursday, he said the brief phone calls he received from the minister were not enough.

“We’ve shared a number of concerns that we had with Bill 20 and we haven’t had the opportunity to sit down and talk about it with the province,” said Gandam, who hopes a June meeting with Smith and McIver will help smooth over the issues. things in the municipalities. ‘Relationship with the province.

“Not everything goes smoothly,” he said.

Opposition New Democrats have called for the bill to be gutted.

NDP municipal affairs critic Kyle Kasaowski echoed Gandam’s disappointment in a statement Thursday, but also noted low public support for the introduction of political parties at the municipal level, another contentious element of the bill.

“The UCP is completely ignoring feedback from Albertans as the government amendments do not recognize this at all,” he said.

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