Millet mayor says City of Wetaskiwin left no choice on lawsuit

Millet mayor says City of Wetaskiwin left no choice on lawsuit

Tony Wadsworth says town, County of Wetaskiwin wanted to talk things over with city

The Town of Millet says legal action against the City of Wetaskiwin wasn’t the avenue Millet’s mayor wanted to explore, but apparently there was no other choice.

The County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet announced last week they were pursing legal action against the City of Wetaskiwin over the city’s departure from the Joint Economic Development Initiative, JEDI for short.

At the heart of the matter is whether or not the City of Wetaskiwin, after its departure from JEDI, has any responsibility for the years it was a member of the organization.

Millet Mayor Tony Wadsworth was contacted through email by The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer, and responded July 9.

“The goal of the joint legal action taken by the County and Town is to see the City honour their legal responsibilities under the terms of the JEDI Agreement when they filed Notice to Withdraw effective December 31, 2017,” stated Wadsworth.

“In my opinion, the City Council of the day (in June 2017) failed to recognize the ongoing responsibilities that the City, County and Town had committed mutually to each other when JEDI was first formed almost 20 years ago. In sharing a vision of industrial growth for our region as a whole (as opposed to growth within a singular municipality), all three municipalities recognized then that long term investment was required from each for the long term gain of all three.

“This is the specific reason why all three parties agreed at the time to write the JEDI Agreement in the way it was worded. Incidentally, this was an innovative approach that has been hailed by Government and Municipalities across the Province ever since.

“For the City to now take a position that their mid- term investment over the past 15 years or so does not warrant them staying with the original plan is, of course, their right to exercise at any time; but in doing so, the City also cannot expect that their former partners will simply allow them to ignore the pledges that were made by all three municipalities for the long term benefit of all.

“This is why the County and Town are solidly united in resisting the City’s efforts to walk away without acknowledging their earlier commitments to us both. The County and Town have already won the first legal challenge that the City made (arbitration ruling) when the City failed to recognize some of the obligations that were made by the parties mutually when forming JEDI.

“It is unfortunate that the City are, again, now forcing the County and Town to take a similar legal route to see the City continue to recognize the remaining obligations made by all three parties. We will be happy to let the Courts decide what the City will have to pay as compensation for terminating their participation in a long term venture long before its expected duration.”

Wadsworth said it’s unfortunate the situation will apparently have to be sorted out in a courtroom.

“The County and the Town both regret having to make this decision,” stated Wadsworth.

“As neighbours, we would much rather have sat down and worked together to resolve this. But the City have been unwilling to go that route, so there is no other alternative open to us than legal action.”

Stu.salkeld@pipestoneflyer.ca