By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Coaldale town council is exploring ways to move forward after a recent Municipal Accountability Program (MAP) report.
At Coaldale town council’s regular meeting on Oct. 12, council discussed the response plan from the MAP report. Earlier this year, the province denied a request for a municipal inspection. Instead, the Town of Coaldale took part in the Municipal Accountability Program.
Chief Administrative Officer, Kalen Hastings, detailed the itemized list of the report findings, and the Town’s response plan to implement solutions. MAP highlighted 10 key points in their findings and have allowed the Town one year to complete all items set forth by Municipal Affairs.
One MAP finding asserts the Town did not have a bylaw giving authorization to the CAO or designated officer to consolidate one or more bylaws.
“The most pragmatic way to approach this would be to amend the council and procedural bylaw to include that clerical, typographical, and grammatical errors in bylaws may be corrected by the department of legislative services and may consolidate all amendments into a single bylaw.”
Hastings says several other items detailed on the report have since been rectified. Municipal Affairs determined that each councillor is required to vote on a matter unless they were absent from a public hearing or if a councillor declares a conflict of pecuniary interest. The example highlighted in the report references an incident where a councillor did not vote in favour of a motion to approve the minutes because they weren’t at that meeting.
“Municipal Affairs advises that you still have to vote on the minute even if you weren’t at the actual meeting,” stated Hastings.
The report also highlighted that when council enters closed sessions, there must be a recorded statement of the statutory basis to enter a closed session. Hastings noted the template for the resolution was a practice implemented by council, soon after the item became flagged, and on July 12, 2021, a change to how the motion to go into closed session was restructured to be in accordance with the Municipal Government Act.
Hastings reported that several of the report findings appeared to be frequent oversights among other municipalities as well. In speaking with other Chief Administrative Officers in communities with populations under 2,500, Hastings said, “they asked, ‘oh did (municipal affairs) get you on the office location and banking institution?’ I think looking at that anecdote, it shows that some of these issues that are in here are not that uncommon or significant.”
The report highlighted the Town had not appointed a designated financial institution or designated Town office building which have since been rectified.
One such item was an oversight on the part of Municipal Affairs. The report indicated that the town did not meet the legislative requirements with respect to, “the listing and publishing policies that are used to make planning decisions.”
Municipal Affairs recommended for the Town’s website to be updated to include a document summarizing the policies and their relationship to each other in accordance with legislative requirements. Hastings told council this requirement is visible and present on the website, but was missed by Municipal Affairs in the initial audit.
Based on the report and feedback given by Municipal Affairs, Hastings stated, “there were no materially significant items, just common loose ends, which won’ take much time or money to correct.”