Court order on Chestermere layoffs denied for second time

King’s Bench Judge Johanna Price wrote that the group had failed to show they would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction was not granted.

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For the second time, courts have rejected an attempt by Chestermere’s fired mayor and council to obtain an injunction over the Alberta government’s order that removed them.

In a written decision released Friday, King’s Court Judge Johanna Price ruled against former Mayor Jeff Colvin and three former city councilors, Stephen Hanley, Mel Foat and Blaine Funk, as they sought an injunction against the minister. of Municipal Affairs, Ric McIver, of December 4. dismissal order.

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The layoffs came on the heels of a provincially ordered municipal inspection, which found the city was irregularly, inadequately and recklessly managed, and the city’s failure to comply with provincial directives that emerged from that investigation.

If granted, the injunction would have allowed Colvin, the three council members and the three fired city managers to return to their positions while a judicial review (a separate legal action challenging the dismissal order) was completed.

In denying the request, Price ruled that the group did not meet the requirements for an immediate injunction. He wrote that the group did not show that they would suffer irreparable harm if the injunction was not granted, although he acknowledged that there is a “serious issue that must be tried” in the judicial review and allowed lawyers to seek an expedited date for that matter.

Lawyer Jeff Moroz argued Tuesday that the group should be reinstated immediately as the interim leadership, installed by the province following the layoffs, has caused harm to the community by making major policy changes and reversing actions by Colvin council.

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“I am aware that the Minister found that the applicants were managing the city in ‘an irregular, inadequate and short-sighted manner,'” Price wrote. “It is therefore not surprising that the (interim administration’s) approach is different and I am not convinced that this represents a harm to the public interest.”

This is the second protection claim that the group has lost.

In November, another King’s Bench judge denied an application for a preventive injunction after McIver notified the council of his intention to dismiss them. At the time, Judge Keith Yamauchi ruled that the group did not prove that the layoffs would cause irreparable harm, but if he granted the injunction, “the harm to the public and the city would be greater than any harm to the applicants.” A week later, they were fired.

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Douglas Lagore, acting as acting mayor and council of Chestermere
Douglas Lagore poses in the council chambers of Chestermere City Hall on Tuesday, December 5, 2023. He serves as the city’s interim mayor and council. Jim Wells/Postmedia

On Tuesday, the minister’s lawyer, Peter Buijs, had sought to have the matter dismissed immediately, arguing that the plaintiffs were attempting to relitigate the same matter based on the same evidence presented in November, alleging abuse of process. Price ruled there were enough differences to warrant further consideration.

The minister’s dismissal order spared councilors Shannon Dean, Sandy Johal-Watt and Ritesh Narayan, although Johal-Watt has since resigned. Dean and Narayan remain sidelined and will not perform official duties until a by-election scheduled for before June.

Meanwhile, the city continues to be run by two provincial officials, official administrator Doug Lagore, who serves as the entire council, and administrative director Pat Vincent.

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