Petition launched for investigation into Council vote on full-time roles

The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Council voted to become full-time councilors on Tuesday, and reaction from the community is beginning to come in.

By Wednesday morning, local entrepreneur Diana Noble had started an online petition calling for Alberta’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs to conduct an investigation into whether a proper process was followed. Noble feels Councill bypassed public input on the issue and left questions about compensation, expectations about their new roles, and the effects on the community unanswered.

“This item was not on the agenda, there was no public consultation, and the motion in itself was incredibly vague in nature,” Nobel told Harvard Media News.

“I feel as though those who voted in favour of this did not, by any means, exercise their due diligence in this process, and that’s very concerning as a member of this community.”

There was also widespread condemnation on social media, with many commentators decrying the lack of transparency and the absence of public input on the issue.

Mayor Sandy Bowman issued a statement explaining why he voted to keep members of the council in their current part-time positions.

“Having a full-time group of elected officials can be extremely beneficial, but I firmly believe that before we make decisions such as these, we must do our due diligence and follow a good process – especially engagement with the public,” wrote Bowman.

Mayor Bowman also expressed concern over the decision being made while Councillors Lance Bussieres and Stu Wigle were absent.

“A decision to move to full-time Councillors should also, in my opinion, be enacted for a future Council and not the current sitting Council. We all knew the job we were seeking when we ran for election, including the compensation and the commitment.”

While Noble’s petition is not legally binding, she hopes it shows Alberta Municipal Affairs that citizens in the RMWB are concerned over the council’s decision and want to be heard.

“I have seen less important motions passed with 10 times the consultation. This is very disappointing,” said Noble.

Mayor Bowman feels there needs to be an independent review of compensation and duties before any decisions on compensation and roles are made.

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