You won’t get another chance for 4 years

Pipestone Flyer

We can grumble about the decisions that have been made by the City Council during the past 3 years. We can also, as investors, take an active role in helping shape future discussions and decisions that take place during the next 4 years. A very important step in that process was for existing aldermen and hopeful candidates to attend a workshop facilitated by Russel Farmer, a consultant with 10 years experience in standard conduct and practices of councils and councilors/aldermen. Approximately 40 people attended the workshop; some were councilors or aldermen, some were hopefuls and some were on-lookers. 

    On Monday, October 18, 2010 seven people were all smiles. And justifiably so. They were just provided a stamp of approval by the voters and acknowledged as the newly elected officials of the Council of the City of Wetaskiwin.  Mayor Bill Elliot and Aldermen Patricia MacQuarrie, Mark McFaul, Glenn Ruecker, Joe Branco, Dale Crabtree and Barry Hawkes were granted 3 years of opportunity to ‘shape’ the future of Wetaskiwin. On October 21st, 2013 voters will, once again, be provided the opportunity to select a new Council to guide the operation of the City for the next 4 years, or until October, 2017. 

    Prior to the 2010 election, Russel Farmer, a consultant hired by the City and County of Wetaskiwin was in Wetaskiwin to clearly inform municipal candidates what is “standard conduct and practices” and how they are expected to conduct themselves when elected to Council. He was back again at later dates providing refresher courses about the roles and responsibilities and specifically state what the acceptable role of an alderman was. 

    It’s quite simple. An alderman’s job is to work with other council members to set the overall direction of the municipality. Councils (Mayor and 6 aldermen) set policies (the rules that determine how things will get done) for administration (CAO Ted Gillespie and crew) to follow when running the municipality. Aldermen are not involved in day-to-day operational decisions. They are however, responsible for reviewing existing policies to ensure they are current and working, and creating new policies to ensure the City is providing programs and services that meet the needs of the community. 

    “It’s much like an hour glass,” explained Farmer who was adamant that for a municipality to be effective,  under no circumstances will elected officials attempt to directly manage the roles and responsibilities of City staff. City Council only has one employee, the CAO. “Council is the top of the hourglass and administration is the bottom of the hourglass. In between at the narrow part is the CAO (Ted Gillespie in the City of Wetaskiwin) who is responsible for ensuring the policies, vision and strategic plan created by Council is carried out by administration. I will go so far as to say Council (aldermen) doesn’t engage with staff,” stated Farmer. So what that means in a nutshell is, the Council sets direction and budget, and then the CAO manages staff and budgets to ensure the effective management of the financial, and all other affairs of the municipality.

    Farmer explained that if individual Aldermen want something done, they must convince Council that it is necessary and a vote by the collective body (Council) will determine if it will be done. He also stated that prior to voting on an issue, it is the responsibility of Aldermen to get information that will enable them to make an informed decision. Once a vote has been passed it is considered as unanimous and must be supported by all Aldermen.

Roles of Mayor 

• “The Mayor in addition to performing duties as an Alderman must preside when attending a council meeting. The Mayor is also generally the main spokesperson for the municipality. The Mayor is also responsible for seeking consensus among members of council, advises council, liaises with other levels of government, and provides advice with regard to policy development. 

Under the Municipal Government Act Aldermen have the following duties: 

• To consider the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole and, to bring to council's attention anything that would promote the welfare or interests of the municipality 

• To participate generally in developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality 

• To participate in council meetings and council committee meetings and meetings of other bodies to which they are appointed by the council 

• To obtain information about the operation or administration of the municipality from the chief administrative officer 

• To keep in confidence matters discussed in private at a council committee meeting until discussed at a meeting held in public 

• To perform any other duty or function imposed on councilors by this or any other enactment or by the council. 

The Entire Municipality

    An alderman is elected to look after the interests of the entire municipality. As tough as it may be at times, the alderman must base any decision on what is best for the entire municipality. Council's effectiveness depends on that. Aldermen also have to make certain that they do not put themselves in a conflict of interest situation. They must ensure that decisions made do not benefit them, their immediate family, or their friends.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO)

    Every council must establish, by bylaw, a position of CAO. The CAO is the administrative head of the municipality. The CAO's responsibilities include ensuring that the municipality's policies and programs are implemented, advising and informing the council on the operation of the municipality, performing other duties assigned by the council, and ensuring appropriate staffing is in place.

    Staying out of the day-to-day operation of the municipality allows aldermen to concentrate on policy making and program monitoring. Aldermen must work with the CAO to keep informed on what the municipality is doing and will depend on the CAO to provide information so that they can make sound decisions.

    A performance appraisal system for the CAO is a key building block for a lasting and positive relationship between council and the CAO. Section 205.1 of the Municipal Government Act states that a council must provide the CAO with an annual written performance evaluation.

Voters will choose the new direction for Wetaskiwin on October 21st. Voters won’t get another chance to personally and directly influence the direction for Wetaskiwin for another 4 years, or October 2017.  Voters must judiciously select the best candidates based on the ones that are best suited to undertake the roles and responsibilities outlined in this article. And, it’s not, “I am going to ….” but “This is how as a Council we are going to….”. 

    I believe that in this election some of results will be won by narrow margins. The best candidates deserve your vote.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange. (File photo)
Wolf Creek and Wetaskiwin school boards ‘reassured’ by letter from LaGrange

Boards urge the Alberta government to honour commitments to Indigenous peoples

Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive. File photo.
Loki’s Car Club hosting its first annual holiday toy drive

Local Wetaskiwin businesses set up as toy drive drop off locations.

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

A home on Montana First Nation was damaged by fire in the early hours on Dec. 2, 2020. (Chevi Rabbit/Submitted)
House fires on Montana Cree Nation under investigation

Two separate fires took place in the early hours of Dec. 2

Longtime central Alberta politician Judy Gordon has passed away. Photo courtesy of the City of Lacombe
Former Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon passes away

Gordon also served as MLA for Lacombe-Stettler before retiring from politics in 2010

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Most Read