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Letter: Nothing wrong with ensuring councils are accountable

Reader claims average Albertan not concerned with Bill 20

Re: Municipalities remain concerned with Bill 20, page 8, May 28 Albertan

Contrary to what the headline suggests, there are probably not a lot of citizens concerned about Bill 20.

It’s mostly the people who work in and for the municipalities; a relatively small number of people in each town. They are paid to raise concerns. The people who actually pay for the town services are much too busy to be concerned unless they are affected directly.

If you don’t believe that’s true, just ask your neighbours how concerned they are. Why would they be? What is it that has the mayors and municipal associations so upset for the past few months? Some of them are listed in the following paragraphs and the citizens who best understand why they are so upsetting are, oddly enough, the citizens for whom Bill 20 is too late.

1.RMA president Paul McLaughlin expressed his frustration and disappointment that Bill 20 “continues to allow for the same cabinet intrusion into local government” and says if these powers were going to remain- regardless, what was the point of going through the motions of making meaningless amendments.”

Many people affected by town councils will relate to this. They understand the frustration. They know how meaningless it is to respond to council mailouts by offering comments that oppose the planning or development ideology or in  some cases decisions made months before.

2. “Alberta Municipalities’ Tyler Gandam is disappointed to see the provincial government is not listening to Albertans and is ploughing ahead with Bill 20.” It’s very similar to the 12 families in Didsbury who are disappointed that the municipality did not listen to them and ploughed ahead approving 12 dwelling units on a plot of land in their subdivision which originally would have been zoned for three single family homes.

3. “The provincial government (is) taking away power from Alberta voters by being able to repeal municipal bylaws behind closed doors.”

Interesting that Alberta Municipalities is so concerned about the provincial government making decisions behind closed doors. According to council minutes, that’s where council discussed the offer to purchase the property formerly known as the 50+ seniors club. If memory is correct, the motion to approve the proposal as discussed was in May of 2023, which was many months before the proposal to rezone the 50+ property.

4. Another issue according to the RMA president, “…their (provincial government) priority seems to be to undermine the ability of local rural leaders to make decisions that are in the best interests of their communities.”

It takes a big leap of faith to assume that local rural leaders always decide what’s in the best interest of the community.

How large of a community are they talking about? The local community at the street or subdivisions level that pays the taxes and supports the larger local community or the larger world community that Trudeau seems to favour at the expense of the Canadian community?

There is nothing wrong with considering the best interests of the community that pays for your services – in fact it is admirable – but not if it’s a trade off that causes harm to those you sought to serve.

Of course that is just my opinion and I know of many, many people whose opinion I would defer to on this and most subjects.

To continue with the line of thought about decisions always being in the best interests of the community, life experience would indicate otherwise.

The people who vote in any election are not all wise or infallible and neither are municipal politicians.

Aside from that, politicians come and go. The newly elected politicians may not supervise, discipline or set guidelines for the employees that carry out the day-to-day tasks.

It seems that the provincial government is aware of instances where decisions were not made in the best interests of the community.

It might not have been due to the action of council but to the inaction of the mayor and council and their reliance on accepting committee recommendations without questions.

To lessen the concerns of the municipalities, the minister of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver, clarified the position of the elected provincial government.

They are ensuring that the locally-elected officials and councils are accountable to the Albertans who elect them and make decisions that reflect the transparency and fairness the citizens of Alberta deserve (April 30 Albertan, page 14). What’s wrong with that?

Isn’t it a good thing to have some recourse to a hurtful decision other than the law courts?

The cost of litigation in a court of law is in the tens of thousands of Canadian dollars.

Even an opinion on the approximate cost of litigation regarding the 50+ club property from Rask Law in Cochrane costs $1,000.

If you ever become the victim of a town’s administrative arrogance or just a bad decision, you will appreciate the existence of a financially inexpensive appeal authority.

Dave Noel,


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