Alberta Municipal Affairs cracks down on town of Fort Macleod

A complicated fight that’s dragged on for two years in Fort Macleod came to an end Monday night, as Alberta Municipal Affairs released a report into the operations of the town of Fort Macleod.

The town was given 12 binding directives, including making sure every council and committee meeting is recorded, and any changes to existing bylaws follow proper procedures. There were also 63 recommendations, and that’s not it.

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“We’re also going to do an assessment audit,” said Alberta Municpal Affairs Public Affairs Officer Jerry Ward. “That’ll begin in the middle of August and that’s basically to go over their books to make sure they’re doing all the property assessment correctly.”

If the directives aren’t completed, more can be added. The provincial report was ordered following months of turmoil that saw Fort Macleod Mayor Rene Gendre suspended, a lawsuit between the mayor and the town, and finally, a petition organized by local residents.

“The Mayor continued to attend committee meetings and showed disregard and disrespect for the governance actions that were exercised by the Fort Macleod council,” said Alberta Municipal Affairs Inspector Shari-Anne Doolaege.

Municipal Affairs cited a number of situations where improper protocol was used. And though the suspended mayor admits he’s made mistakes, not all of the report sits well.

“The inspectors can’t be all right all the time I think,” suspended mayor Gendre said. “I mean, they’re getting information from a number of different sources.”

According to municipal affairs, this is the 17th municipal inspection performed in the last nine years. This report is an indictment of the town’s leadership, but council just hopes they can start earning back the community’s faith.

“I only ask, hope that together that we can build trust and that they would see their council can be trusted and we can work together as a team,” said Fort Macleod Deputy Mayor Brent Feyter.

Gendre’s suspension was renewed two weeks ago, and will be up for another vote at Fort Macleod council no earlier than December 31, unless council decides to review it before then.

The full 167 page report can be accessed on the Fort Macleod town website.