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McGrath retracts controversial motion before debate

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
McGrath retracts controversial motion before debate

Let the streak of short council meetings continue.

Tuesday night’s gathering had the potential to be the first meeting of 2016 to go past the one-hour mark, but that potential fizzled out when Councillor Keith McGrath asked council to remove his controversial motion from the agenda.

Councillor Tyran Ault seemed excited for the debate over McGrath’s motion before the meeting

The motion aimed to redraw the RMWB’s ward boundaries, taking the second councillor from Ward 2 and giving that seat to another Ward 1 representative. It also looked at making the Deputy Mayor a directly-elected, full-time position and to create a three-councillor “executive council” that would be more heavily involved in administrative matters.

“Right now what I hear from residents and businesses is that we need to work together with urban, with rural,” McGrath said. “Now more than ever we need to re-align our focus and create policies that address the needs for this community as a whole.”

He added that he believed the motion, in its current form, would distract from more pressing matters to the municipality in the midst of this economic downturn.

“We’re talking about [rural] wards that don’t have running water, running sewage,” he said. “These are big issues, why wait?”

McGrath says he gave notice of his motion a month ago to provide time for stakeholders and community members to get in touch with him and let him know how they felt about the suggestions. He said that his proposal to include Saprae Creek and Draper in Ward 1 had positive feedback, but was told by many that the motion had too many “moving pieces.”

The Ward 1 councillor did say that he will be taking a harder look at his motion, and it may come back in the future in smaller pieces.

The reduced agenda was passed through with little debate, ending the meeting within 40 minutes. Debenture bylaws were amended unanimously, allowing council to go into debt to pay for projects already approved in the 2016 Capital Budget. Philip Schofield was also appointed as regional assessor. The final item of the night saw council approve the cancellation of the March 22nd meeting, giving councillors the chance to engage in a governance session with administration. There will still be a special meeting at 5 p.m. to deal with an agenda item that needs to be addressed that day.

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