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Hopefully petition does not fall to technicality

Posted on April 18, 2018 by Taber Times

The hot-button topic on the need of a new, relocated fire hall continues to burn bright in the hearts of several Taber residents.

That fact was self evident in the recent presentation of a petition to town council that neared 1,000 signatures questioning the need for a new fire hall and asking the town hold a plebiscite on the issue.

Coming on the heels of an open house earlier this year on the issue that had very strong attendance at the Taber Community Centre auditorium, filled with thoughts that align with the thrust of the petition, Taber residents have shown a trend that at the very least, the thought of a new fire hall should not be a done deal, and investigated further.

Under the MGA, the petition will be filed with CAO Cory Armfelt, who will be responsible for determining the sufficiency of the petition in accordance with Sec. 225.

For municipalities other than summer villages in Alberta, in order for a petition to be deemed sufficient it can only be signed by electors of the municipality equal in number to at least 10 per cent of population.

Other required information includes an elector’s full name, the petitioner’s signature, address and contact info, and the date it was signed and witnessed, among other stipulations.

With so much at stake with a multi-million dollar venture that will resonate within the community in what it has promised to deliver, due diligence should be taken — to a degree.

If the petition is filled with names outside town boundaries, fake names, repeat names etc., the whole integrity of the petition is at fault and should be thrown out.

But if the town decides not to pursue further action from the petition because a T forgot to be crossed or an I dotted, it would certainly call into question the different actions of council.

The petition that was presented to town council earlier this month was near identical in form to earlier petitions presented to council from concerned citizens that were worried about suggested locations of a new fire hall being in their neighbourhood.

Council heeded the wishes of those petitions, petitions that had far fewer signatures, without any of the extra scrutiny that the latest petition is undergoing.

Some on council have voiced concerns about the possible cost of a plebiscite to taxpayers on the fire hall/emergency services building issue which will be an extra cost put on the citizenry. But when a very vocal minority (majority?) have voiced various concerns over a project that will cost multiple millions of dollars when you factor in a land purchase as well, is that not a drop in the bucket for the cost of due diligence in hearing the voices of the people that elected you?

The citizenry should also do their due diligence on the issue as well of a relocated fire hall with any future feedback, not just giving a yes or no to the issue, but a thought out, logical reason for the stance as well.

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