The town of Redwood Meadows is typically a quiet community in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, but a heated debate over boiling leadership has made things less sleepy than usual.
This is the result of months of concern over the town’s financial situation, accusations of bullying, and an attempt to oust the current mayor and council.
Many residents said they were unable to demonstrate a spending deficit after investments in several projects, including a community rugby field and a local outdoor rink skating shed, went over budget, according to a recent financial report. I am interested.
Some residents say local leaders have turned a deaf ear to these concerns.
Mike Norman, a resident of Redwood Meadows, said, “They have two and a half years to spare if they can get this council through until the next election.”
“I don’t think I can afford those two and a half years.”
Earlier this year, a group of the town’s four former mayors and four former deputy mayors gathered for a town meeting attended by more than 300 people.
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The group collected the necessary signatures, and at its November 30 meeting claimed 98% support for a vote to remove the current mayor and council and replace them within 60 days.
“From a legal standpoint, this was the only way this could happen,” said Paul Solar, a former mayor and leader of a group trying to remove the mayor and council.
“It was to hold meetings, change ordinances and pass several resolutions to remove members of parliament.”
Solar said the move was acknowledged in a letter from the state government.
Solar added that he was elected interim mayor until next year’s election.
West of Calgary, Redwood Meadows is on land leased from the Tweina Nation and is the only town recognized by the state government.
Being a townsite, the local government holds the unique legal status of being a society rather than a municipality.
“We don’t have the legal protections that places like Chestermere have. If things go wrong…the state will step in and take over and conduct an investigation,” Solar said.
“We are basically alone.”
However, current Redwood Meadows mayor George Allen said the attempt to remove the town’s leadership was problematic.
Allen was elected to the city council in October 2021, but was appointed mayor earlier this month after his predecessor resigned.
“This group is focused on bullying,” Allen said. “They are not following proper procedures and proper bylaws of our community.
“When they circulated the petition, they really represented themselves as townsites. There are many flaws.”
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Allen pointed out the issues involved in a legal opinion on the situation by a Calgary law firm hired by Townsite.
Allen said there were accusations of bullying and lock-swapping at the town’s administration office.
On December 20th, there were two councils claiming to simultaneously represent the community council. Allen’s meeting was held virtually, while Solar’s meeting was held at the town hall.
“They broke into the building illegally. We don’t know how they got access,” Allen said. “It’s under investigation.”
He said congressional spending is capped and financial managers are being hired to improve transparency, but the situation distracts from concerns about water treatment issues.
“We recognize that this group has a lot of knowledge in the community, and we look forward to working with them to help solve some of these issues,” Allen said. “That would be the ultimate victory.”
As the situation continues, both sides of the debate are hiring lawyers, which could spark a legal battle over community leadership.
But former mayor John Welsh said he was confused as to why the town’s leaders wouldn’t step down, given the remaining costs, such as infrastructure.
“All we are saying is step down so we can vote,” he said.
“It doesn’t make sense why volunteers don’t stand up for the communities they love.”
A special general meeting is scheduled for January 31. Allen said the meeting would discuss changing the bylaws to allow residents to remove council members.
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