Cremona petitioners await word on dissolution bid
The organizers of a petition drive for a dissolution study on the Village of Cremona is adopting a “wait and see” attitude, while awaiting word from Alberta Municipal Affairs.
Cremona resident and business owner Jen Thompson, along with her business partner Colleen Oughton, collected more than 160 signatures during the past several months, on a petition requesting the minister to undertake a dissolution study of the municipality.
“I don’t think we could have done much more than what we did,” said Thompson. “I visited most of the houses in Cremona and most of whom I spoke to were all ready for a change. That reflects in the number of signatures that I got.”
Typically, a dissolution study examines the finances, services and governance of a municipality, providing clear information for the minister and residents. “It also projects the likely scenario if the municipality were to dissolve and become part of a surrounding municipality,” said Jerry Ward, public affairs officer with Alberta Municipal Affairs.
Many Cremona residents have expressed concerns over decisions council and village administration have made, with many believing the majority of council “isn’t listening.”
In a letter to the editor in the March 13 Carstairs Courier, resident Bob Reid wrote that “this council and administration’s dictatorial behaviour would make anyone feel embarrassed.”
“The draconian tactics of enforcement are shameful,” Reid added.
On Feb. 23, Thompson and Oughton delivered the petition to Alberta Municipal Affairs. Soon after, government official Linda Reynolds was appointed by the minister as the chief administrative officer, responsible for determining the sufficiency of the petition.
Recently, Thompson received a list from the minister’s office, with names of people that Reynolds couldn’t contact or verify.
“The majority were renters,” said Thompson. “I have sent her all the numbers I can for her list that she needed.”
The Minister’s office had until 4:00 p.m. on March 21 to complete the verification of signatures.
“We needed to have 139 verified signatures,” added Thompson. “It’s out of our hands now.”
Meanwhile, Thompson and other petitioners are awaiting the next step in the process.
“The government isn’t under any obligation to report back to me right away,” Thompson said. “Ms. Reynolds will go to the minister on March 23 and it’s up to him at that point as to how it’s going to proceed.”
Village councillor Mindy Whittle said she considers the dissolution study to be more of a “sustainability study.”
“As far as I’m concerned, that’s basically what it is,” said Whittle. “I welcome it. It’s not going to hurt anybody. People keep asking me if it’s offensive and I say I don’t find it offensive at all.
“It shows us where we’re lacking and what we need to do to make things better. I think it’s a very positive thing for this community and that just goes to show how strong our community is.”
Whittle added that she “didn’t think the ministry would do anything to jeopardize something that is functioning properly.”
“I think they have our best interests at heart,” she said. “Only good can come from this.”
A dissolution study will “put everything in black and white,” Thompson said.
“I’ve heard for years now people whispering that we’d be better off with the county. The study will at least tell us where we stand. Whatever the minister decides for Cremona is what we’ll get,” she said.
“It was a lot of work but I feel that regardless, as much as I want to have a dissolution study, just getting the numbers we needed to submit the petition is a small victory in itself.”
Meanwhile, Mountain View County issued a statement on March 16 saying it plans to conduct “business as usual” with the village and wait “before determining a definitive position on the subject” until after a ruling on the petition comes down from the minister’s office.