You may have heard about three town council employees in Thorhild County getting fired by the Alberta NDP government for poor practice recently, but let me tell you about Acme, Alberta where residents had some run-ins with its own town council.
A series of missteps by current council members that are similar in severity as those in Thorhild, prompted residents to petition for an inquiry. And much like the petition in Thorhild, a Municipal Inspection Report was ordered but with much different and more lenient results.
The issues started in 2010 when then mayor and now current Deputy Mayor, Dennis Kuiken, attempted to sell a park in the town and was involved in a tax recovery sale in which it’s illegal for council members to purchase land in such a transaction.
Conveniently, union boss Bruce McLeod was invigilator of the tax recovery sale involving the Deputy Mayor, where seven active bidders showed up, but he then proclaimed it was closed and he had only received one closed bid – of course, from his colleague Dennis Kuiken. And there was a suspected arson on the property the day before the land was supposed to be returned to the town as a result of council following up with the illegality of the purchase.
Residents also became suspicious that a fixed election occurred in order to vote who were thought to be preferential candidates on to council – you see, the town has been run by the same group of people for years. Election issues included, among many other instances, having family members of candidates manning polling stations alone, candidates being in the vicinity of election supplies and council staff intervening with voters when they arrived to cast a ballot.
A group of residents did bring these issues to court and after a long decision, the case was dismissed. But what was curious, is that after residents made waves, they started to become aware that they were getting more notices from bylaw – almost as if they were being targeted.
In Thorhild, council members got fired for their actions, while in Acme, very little was done to alleviate the issues that the residents were having with their council. Larivee gave these council members a slap on the wrist and said that vast improvements have been made and there will be a follow up, which has left some residents unsatisfied with the outcome of the review that was completed by the NDP government.