Original Published 11:47 May 27, 2022
By Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Ten residents were in the gallery when Council held a special meeting on the petition. Council ultimately voted to proceed with the referendum and accepted the question’s wording. The vote will follow Saskatchewan Elections Act and will be put to voters on Saturday, July 30th, with an advance poll on July 23rd. Mail-in ballots will also be available upon request.
The question will be, “That the Resort Village of Kannata Valley Council REJECT the request from the properties of Condominium Corporation #101055306 (Rock Ridge) to pursue boundary alteration and immediately cease further action in the process.”
Mayor Don Sangster expressed his concern about the potential for people not to understand if they were voting for or against based on the wording in the negative. However, the Council decided to stay with the original wording with the information provided to voters on what a yes or no vote meant.
Two residents who spoke on the petition alleged the Village had not followed the process correctly and that a public meeting should have been held. They asked the rules be followed and also said they hadn’t been well informed and had been in the dark.
People in the gallery urged the council to make the vote to discontinue the annexation, asserting that if they did, the referendum wouldn’t need to occur. However, because Council had already passed the motion to go ahead with the referendum, Mayor Sangster said the motion would need to be rescinded before a new motion could be made. Councilor Plett made the motion to rescind but failed.
During the discussion, Councillor Plett said, “I’m disappointed it’s come to a referendum. It feel like this is adding to the amount of time wasted on this project. If it hasn’t been resolved by now in the last four years I suspect I know the outcome of this referendum. And adding more time and energy to the people in this room seems to me to be more of the same.” Plett called the annexation a “zombie project” because it kept coming back to life. Plett voiced his concerns the annexation was a distraction saying projects hadn’t been completed and water meters had been unread for a year.
During the meeting, an issue with a financial discrepancy came up. Councillor Plett said at the last meeting the financial information did not match. The Mayor took issue with Plett’s comments cautioning him and saying that while he hadn’t been at the previous meeting, he reviewed the information that evening and verified it was correct.
Following the meeting, the council remained in chambers with the door closed. A vigorous discussion could be heard behind it.
Councillor Plett told LMT that he doesn’t believe the discrepancy to be an issue of “foul play” but one that needs to be acknowledged and corrected.
LMT spoke with RM of Longlaketon Reeve Ray Wild, who said the RM had sent a letter to every voting owner in Rock Ridge asking them if they were in favour of pursuing amalgamation, opposed to it or were looking for more information. Wild said to date – they’ve received five replies in favour, 6-7 who opposed and 14 who were looking for more information. “We said all along that it has to be a clear mandate, and 50 or 51% doesn’t cut it.”
Wild said he told the Kannata Valley council, “we need a clear mandate from the residents of Rock Ridge that they want to leave. And I said you also need the same from your residents if you want to take Rock Ridge on. And from right now, what I understand they don’t want rockridge to be amalgamated or annexed into Kannata valley. Because there is going to be a financial cost. And I don’t think anybody on any side is prepared to pony up any dollars. But they will be.”
LMT reached out to Mayor Sangster, Councillor Tom Fink and the Administrator for comment, but they did not respond by the time of publication.
Note: These reports are abridged for content
This item reprinted with permission from Last Mountain Times, Nokomis, Saskatchewan