Rocky View County (RVC) council voted unanimously at the Jan. 24 meeting to begin the process of reverting its Mayor and Deputy Mayor titles back to Reeve and Deputy Reeve.
The change had originally been proposed by Division 3 Councillor and Mayor Crystal Kissel at council’s organizational meeting back on Oct. 25, but was not given first reading until last Tuesday.
Then recently-elected mayor, Kissel, said she has been hearing from constituents and other members of council that they wanted a return to the previous titles.
“This has been a bit of chitchat with so many people, between council; between our constituents,” she said at the time. “We are rural, and we are working our way to urban. But I really think that we kind of got a little bit lost when we changed to mayor.”
Kissel said one day in the future, RVC may be designated a Specialized Municipality by the province, and the mayor title might again be appropriate. But, she felt, that day has not yet arrived.
The titles of the County’s top elected officials were formerly changed at the Oct. 27, 2020 council meeting to Mayor and Deputy Mayor. The motivation behind the change stemmed from council’s desire at the time to seek a Specialized Municipality designation from the province to acknowledge RVC’s blend of both rural and urban jurisdictions within its boundaries.
Currently, there are six specialized municipalities in Alberta – Lac La Biche County, Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Municipality of Jasper, Mackenzie County, Strathcona County, and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
A Specialized Municipality designation allows these districts to tax urban and rural areas under different tax rates, and allows those jurisdictions to apply for grants and provincial funding streams that are, for the most part, only available to urban municipalities.
However, Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver rejected the Specialized Municipality status for RVC in 2021, indicating he felt RVC’s ongoing success, particularly in economic development, meant there was no real need for any such status change.
Despite councillors being in unanimous agreement to change the titles of Mayor and Deputy Mayor back to Reeve and Deputy Reeve, council was informed by RVC’s Legislative Officer Michelle Mitton at the Jan. 24 meeting that the change must be registered as an amendment to the County’s “Electoral Boundaries and Council Composition Bylaw.”
“The Municipal Government Act states prior to giving all three readings to this bylaw, or any amendments to any electoral boundaries bylaw, the bylaw must be advertised and allow for a 60-day petition period after the last date which the proposed bylaw is advertised,” Mitton explained.
Mitton then told councillors she expected final reading of the bylaw to be read in and voted on at the April 25 council meeting.
—With files from Ben Sherick/Great West Media