July 20th, 2024

City Notebook: You think it’s crazy here?

By Collin Gallant on June 22, 2024.

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Mark down Monday for two of the wackier byelections in recent memory.

At the federal level, 84 candidates are contesting the seat for Toronto-St.Paul on a ballot that is literally three feet in length.

Such physical proportions required special allowances in election regulations for size of ballots.

That situation arrises as a protest against the Liberal government’s promise for electoral reform and in support of proportional representation, as opposed to the current “first-past-the-post” system.

But at least they’re making a good point.

The weirder election taking place June 24 is at the municipal level in Chestermere.

There, voters will fill seats vacated last fall by the provincial government after a damning municipal audit.

Former Mayor Jeff Colvin and three removed councillors are running again, despite ongoing civil litigation to recover $630,000 from the four.

Among the stranger items in the lawsuit filed by the City of Chestermere, as revealed in the Calgary media last week:

– Paying to move Colvin’s piano into city hall;

– Un-tendered contracts to clean up the former waterslide slide site, privately owned, mind you, near Highway 1 (it’s now an underpass);

– Hiring a private investigator to dig up dirt on another council member, and installing surveillance cameras.

– $415,000 in legal bills to fight their removal by Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver.

The claims haven’t been proven in court, but the case may be in jeopardy depending on Monday’s results.

There are 23 council candidates and four for mayor, including the ousted council members who claim the’ve been railroaded in a fight against bureaucracy gone mad.

In today’s political environment, that might just be a “get out of jail free” card.

Regarding Chestermere, there are also wild conspiracy theories. Some say the whole matter somehow relates to the “Winnipeg Bioweapons Laboratory,” China, COVID, the United Nations, communism, 15-minute cities, name your beef, etc.

It’s bananas, a bottomless well of nonsense, but it’s increasingly par for the course these days when wild speculation seems to shout down all real and reasonable criticism of government, power, representation, etc.

We’d say the people of Chestermere and the town’s reputation are victims as well, but the whole crazy affair is minor news item behind similar accusations of power grabs and skullduggery in Calgary, Edmonton, Medicine Hat, etc., not to mention discontent in towns, counties, and on and on.

Chestermere provides a rare case when officialdom must react and deal with challenges.

Quick ones

– It always rains when the chucks are in town, it seems. Can we get them back in August?

– A new leader of the Alberta New Democrats will be elected in Calgary on Saturday with several local party officials in attendance.

“We’re very much looking forward to having a new leader in place,” said two-time local candidate Gwendoline Dirk. “Let’s get back work, keeping the UCP accountable and preparing for the next election.”

Other locals are planning to watch the vote at a local restaurant.

By the way, outgoing leader Rachel Notley was set to address a tribute evening Friday with a speech scheduled for “in between the second and third” periods of the Oilers game, according to a release.

A look ahead

Council’s public services committee meets Monday and council gathers Tuesday for budget deliberations, including capital priorities.

Premier Danielle Smith is set to address a provincial conference of food bank organization in Medicine Hat on Tuesday.

100 years ago

Two neighbour boys from Cambridge Street, aged 8 and 10, drowned when their makeshift raft collapsed in the river mouth of the South Saskatchewan River near the Hedley Shaw Mill, the News reported this week in 1924.

A bulldog owned by one of the boys made several futile attempts to retrieve its master while friends ran for help. The rescue party found the boys still “clutched in an embrace” under deep water.

The Beaver Dam Camp recreation spot, near the location and including a supervised bathing pool, had not yet opened for the season.

Local police were puzzled after a break-in at the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company bottling house on S. Railway Street. The puzzling part: nothing was taken.

Detectives in Calgary arrested a bride and groom as their ceremony was about to begin, accusing the teenaged woman of stealing her wedding clothes and the man of contributing to delinquency of a ward of the Children’s Aid society.

Collin Gallant covers city politics and a variety of topics for the News. Reach him at 403-528-5664 or via email at cgallant@medicinehatnews.com.

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