Innisfail citizens group hosting meeting on town affairs

Citizens for Innisfail hope to air local concerns and generate interest in fall municipal elections

An Innisfail citizens group hopes to energize interest in civic affairs at a public meeting Friday.

The 11-strong Citizens for Innisfail is behind the gathering that will look at issues around transparency and accountability at council and town administration levels.

Economic development and what the community should be looking for in its next chief administrative officer are also expected to be topics for discussion. CAO Helen Dietz announced last year she was retiring in June.

Citizens for Innisfail member Mary Flemming said the meeting will give community members an opportunity to discuss the issues of concern to them.

It is hoped the exercise will also highlight the importance of town-level democracy and stoke interest in the October municipal elections.

City of Edmonton Coun. Mike Nickel will be a guest speaker and share his experiences with managing tax dollars, how bureaucracy and council interact, and how transparency can be maintained in civic affairs.

There have been a number of issues that have galvanized some town members in the past few months.

The Citizens have voiced their concern with the firing of a popular fire chief and the high turnover in town staff.

Last November, council was presented with 14 questions by the Citizens, some of which were answered but not others because of privacy issues. A provincial inquiry into the conduct of town chief administrative officer Helen Dietz was requested, but rejected by council as “unwarranted.”

Related stories:

CAO inquiry rejected

The meeting isn’t about beating the drum for a council house cleaning come election time, said Flemming.

“We will encourage people to get the vote out in October,” she said. “I think some of the present councillors won’t be running, so naturally we’d like to see some new faces and new ideas,” she said.

“We have a headhunter company looking for a new CAO, but we don’t want to headhunt the mayor and council.

“But we would like to see more competition,” she said, pointing out Mayor Brian Spiller had no opponents in the last election.

The meeting takes place at 7 p.m. at Innisfail’s Royal Canadian Legion.

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