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Okotoks Council Seeks Province's Nod to Skip By-election



In a move aimed at alleviating financial burdens, the Town of Okotoks will be petitioning Alberta's Minister of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver, to grant them the ability to bypass a by-election following the resignation of former Councillor Cheryl Actemichuk.


The decision comes amidst growing concerns over the costs associated with holding a special election.


During a recent council meeting held on March 25th, Councilor Rachel Swendseid proposed the motion to send a formal request to the provincial authorities seeking permission to operate with one less council member until the next municipal election slated for 2025.


Swendseid expressed sentiments echoed by many in the community regarding the financial strain a by-election would impose. "I had originally wanted to fill the spot because I thought Okotokians would want a representative there," Swendseid stated during the council session. "But after talking to a ton of people in person and through social media... The overwhelming response that I heard was folks do not want a by-election because of the cost."


The issue of costs looms large, with estimates suggesting that holding a by-election and facilitating mandatory training for a new council member could amount to approximately $40,000, as outlined in an administration report presented to the council.


Councilor Gord Land lent support to Swendseid's proposal, emphasizing that community feedback he had heard reinforced concerns about the financial implications of a by-election.


"I debated this back and forth as well. I also spoke to people in our community who didn't want the by-election due to the expense," Land remarked during the council meeting.


Under the Municipal Government Act, municipalities are obligated to conduct a by-election to fill council vacancies unless certain criteria are met. One such provision allows forgoing a by-election if the vacancy arises within 18 months before a general election and the council consists of six or more members with only one vacancy.


Former Councillor Cheryl Actemichuk's resignation, citing 'personal reasons', arrived 19 months before the upcoming general election, thereby presenting the council with two options for consideration under the legislation. Move forward with a by-election or request an exemption.


The Town will now send a request to Municipal Affairs to request the province allow them to forgo a municipal by-election.



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