Clearwater County and The Village of Caroline reached an agreement proposing thata effective January 1st, 2025, the Village of Caroline will no longer exist as a separate entity but will instead become a part of Clearwater County.
Clearwater County District 3 Councillor Daryl Lougheed emphasized the significance of the chosen date, attributing it to changes in the nomination period for municipal elections set by the province. Lougheed said, "The electoral boundaries have to be defined by that time before you open nomination - because (perspective candidates) have to know if they are valid to offer their name to stand for an election coming up in October."
Tracy Height, the Legislative Services Coordinator for Clearwater County, clarified the pivotal nature of the January 1st, 2025 nomination date, "If a different year is chosen - say January 1st, 2026 then that would have an impact on the date of the first election of the new municipality."
Mayor John Rimer of Caroline expressed that if both councils could finalize the amalgamation by January 1st, it would be logical and beneficial. He stated, "If we can do it by January 1st, it would make sense."
In seeking clarification on the feasibility of the proposed date, Clearwater Councillor Sydney Graham asked if January 1st, 2025, was realistically achievable. Height responded affirmatively, expressing confidence that the date could be met, contingent on the committee's ability to conduct negotiations and work efficiently.
Rick Emmons, the CEO of Clearwater County, echoed this sentiment, noting that the achievability of the date relies heavily on the committee's commitment and prioritization of the amalgamation process, "It greatly hinges on the will of the committee and keeping this process a priority."
Village of Caroline CEO Larry Wright conveyed that the Village's staff has been diligently working to support the committee's efforts and progress is being made swiftly, "Our staff is working hard to support the committee work, and we are coming along quite nicely. So, we support (the January 1st, 2025 date)."
Clearwater County Councillor Bryan Cermak highlighted that the ultimate decision regarding the chosen date rests with the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver. Cermak pointed out that although they could propose a date for the amalgamation, McIver has the authority to alter it as he sees fit.
Cermak emphasized the practical approach of selecting a date and allowing the Minister to decide its suitability. He mentioned, "If he doesn't think doesn't like the date we pick, then he can pick a date - and say that this is the date. Adding "So, let us just pick a date and let (the Minister) decide if it's ok or not."
The date will now be forwarded to Municipal Affairs for approval of the amalgamation of the two communities.