District lines are supposed to be changing in the RM of McKillop, north of Regina, but it’s not happening fast enough for some people.
The RM has been in the news several times over the past few months with outrage coming from residents of the resort village on Last Mountain Lake and disputes over taxes.
Many thought this would end after the provincial government appointed a supervisor to oversee RM business, but the issue is making headlines again.
“The delay is really trying to derail direct democracy, and we’re against it,” said Bob Schmidt, with the local ratepayers’ association.
At the end of October, as part of its municipal elections, the RM also held referendums. A question about giving resort communities their own government didn’t pass, but a question about changing the district boundaries within the RM did.
On referendums, the Municipalities Act states that if it passes: “The council shall pass the bylaw or resolution at the first meeting following the vote.”
McKillop’s council held a meeting two days later and it technically followed the rule. It resolved to submit the application on district boundaries to the Ministry of Government Relations, but not until the 27th of November. It also decided to hold a public information meeting on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Schmidt thinks the council is delaying the submission on purpose to give people who don’t want district changes more time to submit their comments.
“I don’t like the idea that they’re giving, what I believe as a faint hope clause to people that voted no. That’s not how referendums work.”
He believes the council doesn’t want the referendum because it will trigger new elections for all of the seats, and they don’t want to lose their seats.
Schmidt believes the council should have voted on and sent in the referendum on October 26 – or better yet – he believes the council should have held a referendum a year ago when he said his group submitted the petition on district boundaries in the first place.
Reeve Howard Arndt is defending the actions of council. He said, after the referendum, the RM administration called the Ministry of Government Relations to check that everything was in order, and was advised the RM should hold an information session for those who may not have participated in the referendum.
The ministry confirmed giving the RM that advice, saying it’s routine.
“It wasn’t an order, it was just a suggestion. However, as you may know, this municipality is under a microscope and there’s been an order to put in place a supervisor who is there. So, when the ministry comes and tells us that – suggests – we should do something, we’re going to do it,” explained Arndt.
Arndt maintains the actions of the council are in line with the Municipalities Act.
The reeve said he especially wants the information session to counter some of what he calls the “misinformation” out there.
Arndt explained that once the application is submitted to the provincial government, the Minister of Government Relations has the authority to make the changes outlined in the referendum, to make different changes, or to make no changes at all. The ministry confirmed those details in an email.
The public information meeting is being held in the RM on Saturday, Nov. 24.