Overview

On December 4, the Minister of Municipal Affairs dismissed four members of the City of Chestermere council and all three of the city’s Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs).

Dismissal is the result of the city’s non-compliance with some of the directives issued by the Minister of Municipal Affairs following a comprehensive municipal inspection in 2022, as well as non-compliance with the supervision of the Official Administrator appointed to supervise the municipality. While the Minister determined that the city has failed to comply with its obligations, he also determined that dismissal of three councillors was not justified.

An Official Administrator has been appointed by the Minister to act as council until a byelection is held and quorum is restored. The Minister has also appointed an interim CAO to manage city operations until the newly elected council can recruit a permanent CAO. In addition, a financial inspection, conducted by an independent professional services firm, is also underway.

January update

An inspection of the City of Chestermere’s finances is underway. The inspection will focus on the city’s financial policies, reporting, controls and governance, as well as chief administrative officer and council expenses, hiring and procurement.

This inspection comes after concerns of financial irregularities were raised by the Official Administrator, as well as through Municipal Affairs’ consideration of the city’s financial reporting.

Dismissal

Four city councillors and all three Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) were dismissed on December 4 by Ministerial Order.

Dismissal of council members and senior administration was due to the city’s failure to comply with some of the Minister’s directives that have been in place since March 15, 2023, and with the supervision of the Official Administrator appointed to supervise the municipality and its council. The city also continued to be managed in an irregular, improper and improvident manner.

The Official Administrator’s appointment has been amended with new authority to act as council, and an interim CAO appointed to oversee the management of city operations, until a byelection is held, quorum is restored, and the new council can recruit a permanent CAO. Since council has lost quorum, the three remaining councillors will have no role in city governance until the byelection is held and quorum is restored.

Inspection process and final report

A municipal inspection is a legislated mechanism established under the Municipal Government Act to help a municipality return to good governance.

The Municipal Government Act does not specify the format of an inspection. However, a municipal inspection is not a public inquiry or a court process. 

An inspector typically gathers information about the situation through steps such as conducting personal interviews, reviewing documents and observing meetings. They then provide the Minister with their findings based on information they gathered and their own knowledge and experience. Steps are taken throughout the inspection process to provide procedural fairness.

Mr. George Cuff was appointed to conduct a formal, third-party inspection of the City of Chestermere's management, administration and operations from May to September, 2022.

Mr. Cuff is widely recognized as one of Canada’s leading authorities on municipal governance. He interviewed all members of council and senior administration, including more than 9 hours of personal interviews with the mayor.

The inspection report that Mr. Cuff prepared is a comprehensive and thorough review of governance in the City of Chestermere, outlining a number of significant concerns, as well as recommendations for addressing those concerns. It was submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs in September 2022.

The Alberta government shared the completed report in Chestermere with residents at a public information session on March 15, 2023.

Minister’s directives

The Minister of Municipal Affairs reviewed the municipal inspection report as well as comments from council members and senior administration. 

The minister considers that the City of Chestermere is managed in an irregular, improper and improvident manner and has issued 12 binding directives through a Ministerial Order requiring the City of Chestermere to take action.

An Official Administrator was appointed to supervise the municipality and its council. 

Information session

Government held a public information session in Chestermere with residents on March 15.

How we got here

  • January 7, 2022

    The Minister of Municipal Affairs began receiving complaints related to the administration and governance of the City of Chestermere.

  • March 10, 2022

    The Minister of Municipal Affairs ordered a preliminary review to investigate complaints.

  • May 9, 2022

    The Minister of Municipal Affairs concluded that sufficient potential concerns existed to justify an in-depth inspection.

    Municipal governance expert, George Cuff, was appointed inspector and asked to conduct a formal, third-party inspection of the City of Chestermere's management, administration and operations.

    The inspection looked into issues relating to:

    • members of council acting alone and outside of a council resolution
    • the complaints process for code of conduct infractions
    • members of council performing administrative functions and duties
    • improper council meeting procedures and conduct
    • sale of municipal property not in accordance with the Municipal Government Act
  • November 2, 2022

    Confidential copies of the inspector's report and a list of potential actions that the Minister of Municipal Affairs may direct was delivered to each member of the city council and senior administration.

    In December, Chestermere city council and senior administration provided comments, sharing their input with Alberta’s government.

  • March 15, 2023

    Government held a public information session to present the municipal inspection report to residents of Chestermere.

    The Minister of Municipal Affairs issued 12 binding directives through a Ministerial Order requiring the City of Chestermere to take action.

  • August 2, 2023

    The Minister of Municipal Affairs met with members of Chestermere City Council and senior administration to explain his concerns with the city’s progress on a number of the ministerial directives and their compliance with the Official Administrator’s supervision. 

    Council was given until September 29 to respond to and address the Minister’s concerns in writing.

  • October 18, 2023

    After reviewing the City’s response and finding it insufficient, the Minister of Municipal Affairs issued notice of his intention to dismiss all seven members of Chestermere City Council and three CAOs, pending a period of time to allow councillors and CAOs to respond in writing.

  • December 4, 2023

    Through Ministerial Order, four city councillors and three CAOs were formally dismissed. The Official Administrator was appointed to act as council and an interim CAO appointed to oversee the city’s administration until a byelection is held to elect new councillors for the vacant positions, quorum is restored, and the new council can recruit a permanent CAO.