Residents of Grande Cache vote to dissolve town

Grande Cache, Alta. Cam Cook/Global News

The residents of a west-central Alberta town have voted to dissolve it and become part of the municipal district instead.

The Town of Grande Cache said 1,097 valid ballots were received after the residents were asked whether to dissolve the town or to remain a town. The majority, 1,065 people, voted to dissolve the town and become part of Municipal District of Greenview No. 16.

“The community has come together and spoken loud and clear,” Mayor Herb Castle said in a news release.

“This decision has not come lightly to our community and I commend our public, town council, the Greenview council, Municipal Affairs and CAO Haugen with the MD of Greenview and our CAO Ms. Thompson for all the attention, thought and effort that has gone into this process.”

LISTEN BELOW: Herb Castle speaks with 630 CHED’s Ryan Jespersen

Castle told Global News last week that it was not “financially viable” for the town to continue into the future.

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With an economy almost entirely reliant on natural resources, the town was used to a boom-and-bust economy. But after the coal mine was closed a few years ago, a large number of residents moved away, the mayor said. The population fell to 3,571 in 2017 from 4,319 in 2012.

The drop in population had such an effect on housing prices that the tax base was lowered to the point where there wasn’t enough money to maintain vital infrastructure anymore.

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WATCH BELOW: Residents in Grande Cache have a big choice to make next week: Should the community remain a town or dissolve and become part of the surrounding municipal district? As provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon explains, with the bills piling up, the local council believes the status quo simply isn’t sustainable.

Click to play video: 'Grande Cache deemed not viable to carry on as a town'
Grande Cache deemed not viable to carry on as a town

In a news release issued on Wednesday, Dale Gervais, the reeve for the MD of Greenview, said the people of Grande Cache were being welcomed into the surrounding district.

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“We all know that this was not an easy decision to make and now the work begins to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone,” he said.

“The road ahead will be full of challenges but with perseverance and determination we can build on the existing community and strive to achieve your full potential.”

The minister of Municipal Affairs will now forward the decision package to the provincial cabinet to recommend the dissolution of the town of Grande Cache.

Administrations from the town and the MD will then being the work to transition the town to a hamlet within the MD. A signed dissolution order will outline the date of dissolution and the MD will take over the administrative duties for the community.

The two councils have agreed to an interim council that will be made up of the current Greenview council plus two members from the town until the 2021 municipal election.

That interim council must review Greenview’s municipal ward boundaries prior to that election, according to Sections 148 and 149 of the Municipal Government Act.

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The town said three ballots were rejected, meaning a total of 1,100 votes were cast in the decision.

The town said next steps on the transition to a hamlet status would be revealed once the order of dissolution is approved.

– With files from Tom Vernon, Global News

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