Rally planned in Thorhild to support councillors fired by province
“Every story has two sides!” That’s the message a group of supporters hopes to hammer home Thursday at a rally for three Thorhild councillors removed from their posts by the province.
The Alberta government dismissed the members March 10 following long-standing concerns about infighting, conflict of interest and poor decision-making that included hiring the janitor to oversee the demolition of a local school.
Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee announced last week that three of the five councillors of Thorhild County, northeast of Edmonton, were let go after they refused to comply with directives laid out last fall, including to hire a chief administrative officer with experience.
“Following a very long series of interactions with them, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve been forced to say that the only way I can restore orderly, responsible government to Thorhild is to remove the three individuals,” Larivee told reporters at the legislature.
Reeve Dan Buryn, councillors Wayne Croswell and Larry Sisson were the three relieved of their duties.
However, on March 11, the three members were granted a temporary injunction by a judge. Buryn, Croswell and Sisson will remain on duty until at least March 18.
On Thursday, a public rally is being held in the parking lot of the Thorhild County Administration Building at 11 a.m.
Organizers took issue with the reason the investigation into the county council was started in the first place.
In June 2014, the province received a petition from 776 county residents, about 20 per cent of the population, urging an inquiry into how the county was being governed.
“We were only on council for eight months when this petition started and our new CAO that we hired, she was only working for a little over a couple months when it started,” Croswell said.
The government eventually hired a third-party firm, which last September submitted a report that painted a picture of a fractured council wracked by infighting.
Larivee said after the report, the province worked with the council to fix its problems but said hiring former Conservative MP Brian Storseth – who was not on a government-approved shortlist of administrators – as CAO was the last straw.
However, rally organizers feel action taken because of a petition with only 20 per cent of residents’ signatures isn’t democratic.
A news release from the organizers also claims: “The majority of stakeholders in Thorhild County believe the Inspection was performed in a biased manner and contains misinformation.”
They said their lawyers filed an Originating Application for Judicial Review, the Notice to Obtain Record of Proceedings on March 4. The request will be heard in court in Edmonton on Friday, March 18 at 10 a.m.
With files from The Canadian Press and Tom Vernon, Global News
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