On March 24 Wheatland County Councillor Brenda Knight was censured by council and asked to write a formal apology to the communities of Strathmore, Hussar, Rockyford and Standard.
Council discussed discretions and breaches of councillor code of conduct by Knight, and a motion states that this conduct has created significant concern for Wheatland County Council.
In addition to writing the formal apology, Knight has been directed to adhere to her obligations as a councillor under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and Wheatland County code of conduct.
She is not to communicate the county's position on any matter to third parties, including municipalities, the provincial government or other entities and individuals without specific authority from council.
She is not to interact or communicate with county staff without Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) approval, nor interfere in the administrative functions of the county, negotiations between the county and other third parties, including other municipalities and the federal and provincial government.
A recorded vote was requested and saw Councillors Knight, Alice Booth and Don Vander Velde oppose the censure, while Councillors Rex Harwood, Berniece Bland, Ben Armstrong and Reeve Glenn Koester were in favour.
When contacted Knight said she was unable to comment on the matter.
While Booth confirmed that anything in camera could not be discussed, she was able to comment on why she voted the way she did.
"My reason for voting against it was there was no evidence before me for me to censure any councillor, and in my opinion this is a tactic to muzzle council," said Booth.
"That's my opinion, this is what that kind of conduct is doing, it's not conducive to good leadership."
Recently reports of mayors and councillors being censured have been popping up all over the province, including here in Strathmore.
"It's unfortunate stuff like this has to happen," said Koester.
"It's something that council doesn't like to do, it's not done very often, and it was council's... I would have to say they didn't come to this decision very lightly or easily."
Koester explained that the discussion being held in camera was typical of a labour discussion. Usually councils go in camera to discuss labour, land and legal. For legal, negotiations will go in camera and discuss issues with a lawyer; if you're trying to buy land, you don't want to give your position out, said Koester, and same with labour issues with employees, it's so people can have a frank discussion without fear of it being made public.
Darcy Burke, mayor of Rockyford, was asked to attend the meeting on March 24 to go over some of the issues that had been happening over a few months, and to discuss his concerns about Knight and her conduct. He said it is important when working in intergovernmental relations to realize that each municipality has to be respectful of each other and their individual opinions, thoughts and ideas.
"We have worked very well with Wheatland County, Rockyford has a great partnership with Wheatland County and we have had for years, and the relationship was being ... there was tension between the municipalities and so I sat for a few months and thought about it, and finally decided we need to have a discussion about this so we can get our municipalities back on line, back working with each other the way we should be," said Burke.
He wouldn't comment for each community, but did say the county and the three villages are about to embark on the largest joint capital infrastructure project that they ever have - the regional water line.
"I guess I felt as though in order for us to move forward as partners in this project - we're talking tens of millions of dollars - we needed to have a frank discussion about ourselves and how we react with each other, and how we act with each other," said Burke.
"We did that, we had that meeting, it's unfortunate when councils have to take that type of stand on elected officials, or those type of actions. That's Wheatland County's business, that was not the request I made, that's their decision and I respect that."
When it's all said and done, Burke said, Rockyford will continue to work with the county through their various partnerships and will continue to sit at the table with Knight representing the county. He would like to see things move forward in a positive direction for everybody involved.
"On behalf of Rockyford we look forward to working with all of Wheatland County councillors in a positive direction in the future," said Burke.
Strathmore Mayor Michael Ell echoed the thoughts of Burke.
"Our relationships between the county and the town is positive, and I want to maintain that relationship. There has been no discussion between the reeve and myself about regarding this matter," said Ell.
In the identified action, council can take more of an escalated response.
"We have our own code of conduct, and there are ramifications if you don't follow that. I sincerely hope it doesn't come to that, the whole idea is to get better and improve," said Koester.
According to the motion the censure will be discussed, and possibly lifted, at the 2015 organizational meeting this fall.