Red Deer Advocate file photo

Red Deer Advocate file photo

Obscure provincial election rule has Red Deer County council shaking its head

Councillors incredulous municipal election candidates cannot use debit to pay $100 deposit

What started out as some routine bylaw administrative house cleaning ended with Red Deer County council directing staff to send a letter to those in charge of provincial red tape cutting.

The issue arose after Red Deer County’s legislative services staff went through the municipality’s election bylaw to make sure it complied with the province’s Local Authorities Election Act.

That deep dive showed that the county’s bylaw allowed debit to be used to cover the $100 deposit that municipal election candidates must pay before running.

But that is apparently a no-no. The elections act allows payment only by cash, certified cheque or money order. It is apparently linked to the province’s ongoing efforts to eliminate red tape and streamline paperwork.

A ministerial order allowed payment by debit in the October 2021 municipal election but it does not apply to future elections.

Legislative services manager Nancy Lougheed said the county’s bylaw must be changed if it is to comply.

Members of council were incredulous.

“Red tape reduction by our province has just gotten sillier,” said Mayor Jim Wood. “I’m just shaking my head here.”

Debit is the payment method of choice for so many it makes no sense that it will not be an option for the next election if the regulations remain unchanged.

“I want to be in compliance but I totally believe the province needs to be made aware of how silly this is,” said Wood.

Coun. Christine Moore agreed “it just doesn’t make any sense.”

The motion to change the county’s election bylaw was defeated.

Instead, administration was asked to send a letter to Associate Red Tape Reduction Minister Tanya Fir to change the legislation to ensure debit is a future option for nomination deposits.

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