(East Central Alberta Review)

Alix council disputes citizen’s accusation she’s being ignored

Stu Salkeld

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Village of Alix council stated they took exception to accusations they ignored a resident’s complaints. They discussed the resident’s letter of complaint at their regular meeting of council Mar. 2.

Village Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Michelle White presented a letter from Alix resident Sharon Faszer during the correspondence section of the agenda, the letter noting speeding in the village is damaging Faszer’s retirement years with an addition that she feels discriminated against by the council and CAO.

“Through village council policies and leadership, we foster an open, cooperative government that encourages public participation and ensures levels of services our citizens expect and deserve,” opened Faszer’s letter, quoting the village’s vision statement.

“The speed, volume and weight on Lake Street needs to immediately be looked into changing. Lake Street was not built for a freeway it was constructed for residential. Traffic on Lake Street from the east should be taking 44 Ave. That is why that road was built back in the day when things were futuristically planned, budgeted for and job executed.

“There is no one on earth that has the right to take one’s dreams of retirement and their peace and tranquility from them. With decisions made by the Village of Alix administration and council going back to approximately 2008 to present you have done just that to me. This is regarding the numerous viable and legitimate concerns/complaints about the sustainability fo Alix Lake, damage to riparian areas and storm drain management on the municipal reserve adjacent my property.

“I am sensing discrimination, judgement and stigma towards myself from yourselves,” stated Faszer in her letter. “If this is indeed true, please stop now. It would be much appreciated.”

Faszer’s letter also included comments about the village having too many employees, and the letter was also sent to the Ministers of Municipal Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure.

Coun. Tim Besuijen stated he didn’t understand Faszer’s concern about Lake Street traffic, as it is Alix’ main access route.

Coun. Barb Gilliat added that Lake Street has two large speed bumps that keep traffic under control.

Mayor Rob Fehr stated there are no stats he’s aware of showing Lake Street has a safety problem and he spoke to other residents in the area and they don’t have concerns. Fehr asked if anyone else complained, and White responded only Faszer has complained.

Fehr also called Faszer’s accusations of discrimination “bunk,” and added the accusations were “…just not right.” The mayor stated people may not always like the answers they get from the village but that doesn’t mean they’re being discriminated against.

Coun. Ed Cole stated he was unhappy with the accusation and added the council has openly discussed every letter Faszer has sent.

Councillors accepted the letter for information.

Requests for information

Councillors unanimously passed all readings necessary to update the village’s FOIP bylaw. White presented a report on how the bylaw required updating to make it compliant with provincial law.

White explained the changes define how requests to the village for information from the public are handled, along with fees for the service.

Mayor Fehr noted he agreed if many frivolous requests come in then fees should be charged for staff time, but stated several times during the discussion he didn’t want to see common requests like agendas and meeting minutes come with a bill for $25.

White stated staff will use common sense when it comes to requests like that.

Coun. Besuijen asked if this only applies to FOIP requests, to which White answered any request for information is technically a FOIP request. Besuijen added that meeting agendas, minutes, bylaws and policies are all available on the village’s website anyway.

Coun. Cole noted, for example, request for information from the national archives come with a fee. “I think it’s reasonable,” said Cole.