The town of Pincher Creek, Alta., will not be undergoing a municipal inspection from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.
During a town council meeting on Sept. 24, 2020, resident Jim Litkowski raised multiple concerns about property taxes and municipal spending. A petition from a group known as “Our Voices Matter” was later brought forward asking for a municipal inspection.
A municipal inspection may be initiated at the minister’s discretion, by request of council, or in response to a sufficient petition.
If ordered, inspections are conducted by an independent third-party contracted by the ministry. It can include any matter pertaining to the management, administration or operation of the municipality.
A letter dated April 21, 2021 and addressed to Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg, signed by Minister Ric McIver reads, “Municipal inspections are extraordinary measures and are not taken lightly. While the review identified some concerns with respect to the governance and operation of the village, those concerns are not of sufficient severity to warrant a full inspection of the town of Pincher Creek at this time.”
Anderberg addressed the letter during a Facebook Live on April 29.
“The council of the town of Pincher Creek has some important information to share with you today in regards to the petition forwarded to the Minister of Municipal Affairs requesting a municipal inspection.”
Anderberg read the letter aloud.
“Town council and the administration has addressed many of the concerns brought forward by Jim Litkowski and the Our Voices Matter group,” he said. “Most of those concerns have proven to be misinformation, disinformation or unsubstantiated claims.”
The letter signed by Minister McIver stated that Pincher Creek would be scheduled for the Municipal Accountability Program in 2021. This would consist of a review of municipal compliance with applicable legislative requirements.
“I believe this program will be very beneficial in addressing issues identified during the preliminary review,” read the letter.
Municipal Accountability Program (MAP) reviews are a multi-year process, ordered by the minister. They help municipalities understand mandatory legislated requirements under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), aid municipalities in achieving legislative compliance with the MGA and other legislation, and provide a collaborative partnership between the ministry and municipalities.
Anderberg believes there’s a silver lining to the preliminary review.
“This whole process has had more of a positive impact than a negative impact on the community,” he said during the April 29 Facebook Live. “A great deal about town operations has been shared. This has helped to clarify many areas of concern and misinformation.”
Global News reached out to Litkowski for comment but did not receive a response.
Pincher Creek isn’t the only town to recently ask for a municipal inspection.
In December 2020, “Citizens for a Better Coaldale” collected 2,334 signatures on a petition requesting a municipal inspection into the town of Coaldale.
Their big concerns are the lack of public engagement and consultation when it comes to major projects in the town with a population of about 8,200 people.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs said a preliminary review was done in the town of Coaldale in April, but no decisions have been made about a municipal inspection.