Innisfail residents want CAO review

Innisfail residents concerned about the town’s direction want the province to review the CAO.

Some Innisfail residents are concerned about the town’s leadership and want an outside review to help clear the air.

Jim Carroll was among a group of 10 residents, backed up by about another 20, who appeared recently before council to express their reservations about how the town was being run.

Carroll said questions about town chief administrative officer Helen Dietz’s leadership have been flying around the community since a popular fire chief was let go in September.

Residents have been frustrated by how few answers they are getting about why the chief was dismissed less than two years after his predecessor. The previous fire chief, hired after a Canada-wide search, was on the job only eight months when he was let go.

Several weeks after the chief left, nearly the entire fire department turned out at a council meeting in full uniform to support him.

Carroll said a group of residents want to see the province undertake a review of the CAO to, hopefully, reassure residents that the town is in good hands.

“We hoped that (council) would go that way, which spare everyone time and be open and fair,” he said.

Town council has expressed its firm support for their top staffer.

However, Carroll said that doesn’t mean there is no value in having an outside party do a review.

Carroll said the town’s issues seem to extend beyond the fire department.

Other former staffers have said that the work culture and morale is poor at town hall.

A list of 14 questions was given to council at its Nov. 28 meeting, many of them related to the fire department and town dismissal practices.

Carroll said another option residents have is to put together a formal petition asking the province to undertake a review or an inspection. Something similar was done in Rocky Mountain House earlier this year.

Mayor Brian Spiller could not be reached for comment on Wednesday. But deputy mayor Mark Kemball confirms council’s support for the CAO in a letter to the editor of the Innisfail Province.

“I assure you that we’re apprised and consulted in every major decision she makes, and have the utmost confidence in her abilities to lead Innisfail forward,” he says.

Kendall says council takes the residents’ concerns very seriously. “We’ll be following up on them accordingly.”

With budget deliberations coming up this month, council asked to bring the issue back at its Jan. 9 meeting.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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