News | DrumhellerMail - Page #28
Last updateFri, 14 Jun 2024 6pm

Wheatland Councillor has sanctions overturned


Sanctions against a Wheatland County Councillor were overturned after a court challenge.
Division Six Councillor Glenn Koester was sanctioned by Wheatland Council in April of 2022. The details of the sanction were held in-camera, however, the Mail reported he was first accused of Code of Conduct Violations in March of 2022. An independent investigation was completed. He requested the discussion be made in open council however it was defeated.
He was sanctioned and asked to provide a written apology to the Wheatland County Council, and he was removed from all previously appointed boards and committees until the next organizational meeting.
Koester challenged the sanctions suggesting he violated the county’s’ code of conduct and took Wheatland County to Court of King’s Bench. In his affidavit, Koester explained the allegations advanced in the complaint related to actions taken by the Wheatland and Adjacent Districts Emergency Medical Services (WADESMA) Board of Directors, and actions taken by the Wheatland Housing Management Body (WHMB) Board of Directors. Both bodies of which, Koester was the chairperson at the time before his removal due to the sanctions imposed by the County.
According to a post on the Getz Collins and Associates social media, Lawyer Colby Georgsen represented Koester in a judicial review application to the court of King’s bench challenging the sanctions
“In overturning the sanctions, the Court ruled that no reasonable body would have found that Councillor Koester had breached the Code of Conduct, and the process used by Council in passing the sanctions was not transparent, intelligible, or justified. The Court also found breaches of procedural fairness, including reasonable apprehension of bias on the part of Council,” states the post.
“This decision is an important reminder that the power of publicly elected bodies is not absolute. Public officials will be held in check should they choose to wield their authority in an arbitrary and unfair manner.”

Smith, McIver attend Wheatland surface rights group AGM

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Premier Danielle Smith and Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver were in Standard on Tuesday, March 5 as guests to the Wheatland and Area Surface Rights Society (WAASRS).
The WAASRS held their AGM at the Standard Hall. Smith spoke at the event. About 250 came out for the meeting.
Chair of the WAASRS Spencer Hilton tells the Mail, says there has been a surface rights group since the early 1990s, but in the last few years they re-formed the Society.
“We were working on certain problems back in that time with oil and gas development, but that came to a very positive conclusion, so we didn’t see the need to be active and became dormant for a while,” he said. “We just got going again in the last four and half years because of the issues we have been having with companies in the area that took over from EnCana and wanted to play the game differently.”
He said he wanted to bring these issues to light white Premier and Minster McIver.
He explains they were glad that McIver was there to listen to their issues with the Land and Property Rights Tribunal, formerly the Surface Rights Board.
“That board falls under his ministry so that is why it was important that he was able to attend,” said Hilton.
He says the WAASRS’ mandate is around oil and gas, and while he appreciates the issues that farms are having with renewable energy developments, it is not in its purview.
hat is being developed in the county is natural gas.”
The group has been successful in the past in fostering positive relationships with area developers while lobbying for what is in the best interests of the landowners and the province in general. This includes negotiation lease placement a spacing as well as baseline water testing.
“Because we were able to sit down with them in good faith in a round table discussion we came up with a plan that satisfied 99 per cent of all land owners in the area and we moved forward for the betterment of the province in general and people that need to heat their houses,” said Hilton.
Hilton says the group felt heard by Premier Smith.
“I think that kudos to Premier Smith. She comes from a background of landowner rights. Before she was in politics she she was involved with that issue and I think she really has an understanding and some clarity around these kinds of things,” he said.
“Now the most important thing is the follow up communications with them.”

Council reaffirms support for inclusivity

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At the Monday, March 11, 2024, Committee of the Whole Meeting, Drumheller Mayor Heather Colberg expressed to the public that council has no intention to immediately ban the decorative Pride crosswalk located by town hall.
On Friday, March 8, 2024, a post was made on social media page, where a concerned resident posted that the Town of Drumheller would be banning the Pride crosswalk at the next Committee of the Whole Meeting. This brought about discussion within the community. Many people were against it and called out the Town for being discriminative towards the LGBTQ community, taking to Twitter/X and Reddit to express their frustrations.
When the issue was discussed at the meeting, Mayor Colberg made a statement regarding the Request for Decision on the Flagpole, Banner and Decorative Crosswalk Policy.
“We get a lot of requests about flags, crosswalks, banners, proclamations and a whole lot of things. We’re trying to figure out: how do we create a policy that’s right for the community going forward? That’s how the policy came up in the first place,” explains Mayor Colberg. “As far as the process we go through, we ask Administration to review a Bylaw Policy to get us information, because they are the experts. In most cases, they look through a technical lens. Their job is to protect the municipality. Once they do their part and get that document to us, we don’t see the document until Fridays at 4 p.m. We didn’t even have a chance to discuss it.”
“I just want to be clear that whatever anyone read into that document, it has to come to this table. It has to go through the process,” continued Mayor Colberg. “It goes through the Administrative process and goes onto the agenda. Council gets it at four o’clock, we spend the weekend reviewing them and then we come here and we discuss them. After we discuss and give our input, Admin takes that document and revises it from our feedback. It goes back out to this council, where we go back over it one more time to see if there’s any changes required, and then I call for a vote.”
“It looks like we are being accused of making a decision but we can’t make a decision here. This is the Committee of the Whole Meeting. Our only ability here is to discuss the policy,” states Mayor Colberg.
The cost of maintaining the crosswalk was a concern for council, since the paint doesn’t last, but most council members were on board with keeping the crossing.
There were other suggestions mentioned for projects within the community that show how the Town welcomes inclusiveness, such as painted murals, Pride flags and even the possibility of a park or place for people to gather to be welcoming and accepting of each other.


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