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Joint Municipal Affairs meeting has Vauxhall councillors puzzled

Posted on October 27, 2016 by Vauxhall Advance

By Nikki Jamieson
Vauxhall Advance

A meeting meant to solve conflicts is just creating questions for Vauxhall councillors.

During their regular Oct. 17 meeting, Vauxhall town council discussed an e-mail sent to the town, asking who on council would be able to attend a joint meeting with the Town of Taber, Municipal District of Taber and Village of Barnwell on dispute resolution, put on by Municipal Affairs.

The meeting is expected to take place on Nov. 8, but Vauxhall council was unsure at what time, as it was not included in the e-mail, a copy of which was not provided to the press. In case someone forgot to inform them, at the last Alberta Urban Municipalities Association meeting, Mayor Margaret Plumtree had asked someone from Taber when it was, but they said they didn’t know.

“They didn’t know, and that was two weeks ago. If they want to make sure people can attend this, like, that’s a large group of us,” said Plumtree. “The problem is, they gave us the date, we had to figure out the date, and then it took us so long to get the time in.”

Although they know dinner will be included in the meeting, there was still the question of whether or not it was before, after or during the meeting.
“Do you really have to have dinner? Like, just get on with the meeting almost,” said Plumtree.

“For the dispute resolution persons, I suspect that’s important; a nice friendly dinner first before the gloves comes off,” said Counc. Richard Phillips to council’s amusement. “It just annoys me that we’re even invited.”

Vauxhall council is also a bit puzzled as to why they were invited to a dispute resolution meeting, alongside the respective councils for Barnwell, town of Taber and M.D. of Taber. As far as they’re concerned, they have no problems with anybody.

“We’re not part of any dispute, so it’s a waste of council’s time,” said Phillips.

The idea of the dispute resolution came out of the conflict between the M.D. and the Town of Taber councils, when the M.D. announced it was terminating the shared fire service with the town earlier this year. Taber Mayor Henk DeVlieger had written to MA Minister Danielle Larivee in March, and both the town and the M.D. had received a copy of the reply, thanking the mayor for his letter on the fire agreement and letting them know that MA will be meeting with both the town and M.D. councils in follow-up meetings.

While there is no formal record of Taber town council meeting with MA, the MA representatives had brought up their dispute resolution services at a May M.D. meeting. A joint meeting with all four municipalities was later planned by MA.

“We weren’t part of any of it. We get along with Taber just fine, we get along with the M.D. just fine, we get along with Barnwell just fine,” said Plumtree. “It’s like two kids are fighting and you invite their friends to the party to work it out. It just doesn’t make sense.”

According to Vauxhall’s CAO Cris Burns, the other third party at this meeting had replied to the request to just set a date and would see if they can make it, with no guarantee that they could. Vauxhall council would also like to know just what exactly will be going on at the meeting.

“I just don’t see why the first initial meeting isn’t with the two parties that are having the issue. And then, once they start working out things, and they need to figure out how to include the rest of us, then we get invited to the table. That just makes more sense,” said Plumtree. “We already got groups, committees that work together just fine with the four of us.”

Council instructed administration to find out what was on the agenda for the evening, and accepted the e-mail for information.

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