Less than one year after the last province-wide municipal election the Village of Big Valley will be holding a by-election to fill a vacant council seat. The councillor resignation was discussed at the Sept. 8 regular meeting of council.
Mayor Dan Houle began the discussion regarding the resignation of Coun. Gail Knudson, saying everyone in town probably already knows that Knudson resigned on Aug. 15. Houle asked staff if the election had to be held on Dec. 13.
Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald responded by providing a number of by-election date options to choose from, noting that certain laws apply to by-elections.
She noted elections are usually held on Mondays as the results need four more days to make them official which would be the following Friday.
Macdonald also noted nomination day must be four weeks before election day, and councillors had to keep in mind statutory holidays such as Thanksgiving coming up.
Coun. Amber Hoogenberg suggested Oct. 24, and Macdonald added that would mean nomination day would fall on Sept. 26 while the by-election could be publicly advertised on Sept. 12 and 19.
Hoogenberg stated she would like to see a new councillor elected as soon as possible. Mayor Houle agreed.
CAO Macdonald was appointed returning officer. She noted there will be costs associated with the by-election, including printing, staff time and advertising but $1,500 had been budgeted for elections.
On the morning of Sept. 9 the village posted a message on its social media page thanking Knudson for her service to the community.
Water tower blues
Councillors read two staff reports about problematic leaks that continue to plague the municipal water tower despite the fact a contractor worked on the tower recently.
In her regular report Public Works Foreman Amanda Valente stated, “Have got ahold of Knibbs June 27 regarding the leaks in the tower. He finally came down July 17 with the line installer and put in a spray foam (did not work, it’s still leaking). Have called (Knibbs) numerous times to tell him and still haven’t heard back on a definite date to fix this issue and to start the cladding.”
In her regular report to council CAO Macdonald followed up on that by stating, “I...have asked for a concrete timeline as it’s getting into fall now and we need this work completed.” Macdonald stated Knibbs promised to respond soon.
During discussion councillors and staff stated Knibbs is being called to work on the water tower as warranty work. Macdonald noted that Knibbs, during one of their visits, found “...a couple of holes in the (water tower) liner” and also had a couple of boots made for the bottom.
The CAO stated it’s hoped the contractor can then start filling to address the saturation. Macdonald also noted the contractor told her they don’t think there will be a problem with freezing this winter as loose water should dry naturally if the leaks are sealed.
When asked where the holes came from, Macdonald responded it doesn’t appear the contractor is to blame and while she said there is some speculation about what caused the holes she was not free to discuss that topic during the open meeting.
The mayor stated council would discuss that topic in closed session later.
Coun. Hoogenberg seemed frustrated by the ongoing warranty work and repairs on the water tower. “At this cost we could have just put up a new one,” she said. “Maybe, maybe not.”
Councillors accepted the reports for information.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review