Well the Anchor was not invited to the party, but in a bold response to their recent dismissal, former Chestermere Mayor Jeff Colvin and two members of his dismissed council block held a news conference on the shortest day of the year. The event, shrouded in the metaphorical darkness of the winter solstice, served as a platform for Colvin and his allies to launch new allegations against various parties they claim conspired in their removal.
Colvin, alongside the dismissed council members, accused Alberta’s Municipal Affairs Minister, the RCMP, and others of orchestrating their removal from office. This move comes as part of a renewed legal challenge to pause the dismissals and reinstate the officials.
In a striking accusation, Colvin claimed that Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver misled with factual information and that this misrepresentation is the reason for their court action. Colvin’s allegations include claims of conspiracy since the early days of his term, lack of procedural fairness in the provincial-ordered municipal inspection, and bias due to McIver’s alleged familial ties to Chestermere’s previous mayor.
The controversy began when McIver dismissed Mayor Colvin and three other councillors, citing a failure to rectify multiple organizational problems identified in a third-party report. This decision came after almost two years of complaints and concerns, including a detailed investigation by George Cuff, which highlighted issues like blurred lines of authority, infighting, and a failure to adhere to rules and procedures.
Despite these allegations, McIver’s office has refrained from commenting on the ongoing legal proceedings. However, they have pointed to a 46-page document detailing the reasons behind the dismissals. These reasons include concerns about council actions, such as purchasing trolley buses based on an online straw vote and questions around refunded property taxes and credit card expenses.
Colvin and the dismissed councillors have disputed the findings of the Cuff report and are seeking a judicial review. If their temporary injunction is granted, it would allow them to return to office pending the completion of the judicial review. Notably, a previous application for a pre-emptive injunction was dismissed.
Meanwhile, Chestermere’s interim management is deliberating whether to continue the existing judicial review, filed by the ousted administration, which contests the municipal inspection leading to the dismissals.
The political landscape in Chestermere remains tense, with three councillors spared from the dismissal due to their efforts to hold the city accountable. However, with one of them having resigned and the others not participating in governance until a byelection fills the vacant seats, the city awaits a resolution to this unprecedented situation. Jeff Colvin has indicated that if the judicial review and injunction are unsuccessful, he and the dismissed councillors plan to run in the upcoming byelection, putting the decision back into the hands of Chestermere residents.