Rocky Mountain House town council has voted to begin what could prove contentious amalgamation talks with Clearwater County and the Village of Caroline.
In a special council meeting on Thursday, Rocky Mountain House council unanimously voted to “support the initiation of amalgamation discussions as part of current negotiations already underway between the three municipalities.”
Council also supports a joint application from the three municipalities for an Alberta Community Partnership grant to “facilitate the amalgamation discussions.”
Caroline Mayor John Rimmer said he was not aware of the special council meeting and was taken aback by Rocky council’s move.
Rimmer said the three municipalities have a number of joint agreements that have come up for renewal and negotiations have been ongoing for some time. Amalgamation has come up in talks but no serious discussion has taken place.
“To me, it looks like they’re trying to force it,” he said. “I just think what they’re doing is not appropriate.”
Rimmer said he doubted Clearwater County would look favourably on the town’s move either.
“I’m not saying I don’t see (amalgamation) as the way to go in the future. But I question the way they are going about this.”
Amalgamations are similar to merger of companies in the business world, he said. “But a merger is usually favoured by all those involved.”
Clearwater County chief administrative officer Rick Emmons offered a short statement when asked for comment.
“Clearwater County is committed to the mediation process and working through our regional agreements.”
Rocky Mountain House Mayor Tammy Burke also offered a statement on Thursday evening.
“The Town of Rocky Mountain House values our partnerships with our neighbouring municipalities, and we understand that residents are asking for efficient, responsible government,” she says in an email.
“By initiating a discussion on amalgamation, we will be able to explore the best options for our community as a whole.”
A number of Alberta municipalities have amalgamated over the years.
Most recently, Lac La Biche and Lakeland County joined to become Lac La Biche County in 2007. In the 1990s, amalgamations created the Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Drumheller, Crowsnest Pass and Cold Lake also saw amalgamations in that decade.