Proposed changes to bylaws in the RM of Armstrong raising concerns
Proposed changes to two bylaws in the RM of Armstrong are raising concerns, with fears it could have 'detrimental effects' to leaders of rural municipalities in Manitoba.
The rural municipality, which is in Manitoba's Interlake-Eastern region, is in the process of updating its organizational and procedures bylaws.
Armstrong Reeve Susan Smerchanski, who spoke with CTV News as an individual and not on behalf of the council or the RM, has some concerns with the proposed changes.
"It is my personal opinion that Bylaw 7-2021 could significantly change the role of the head of council, who was democratically elected by the residents and ratepayers of the RM of Armstrong," she said in prepared statement.
Among the changes, the draft bylaws seek to allow council to annually appoint one of its members to serve as the official spokesperson for the council, and to appoint a member to serve as chair of meetings.
These are two duties traditionally held by the head of council – either a reeve or mayor.
"This bylaw could be implemented anywhere with detrimental results and effects to any heads of council," she said.
The RM of Armstrong
Armstrong's draft bylaws passed the first reading of council on July 13. They are set to go through the second and third readings during the council meeting on Aug. 10.
In an email to CTV News, Armstrong CAO Corlie Larsen said the council hired a consultant to draft the updated bylaws.
Larsen said the purpose of the update is "To be similar with other municipalities to deal with current needs, make the bylaws easier to follow, and adding more details to leave less to interpretation."
CONSULTANT SAYS CHANGES MAY HAVE MERIT TO RM COUNCILS
Ernie Epp, a partner at Way to Go Consulting, confirmed he was hired by the RM of Armstrong as a consultant on the bylaws.
He said there may be some merit in allowing council the flexibility to appoint a spokesperson and chair, which may or may not be the head of council.
"If we've got somebody on council who is a councillor but is really, really good at being a chair, then maybe that's a reason to do it," he said.
On the other hand, he said the changes allow the council to appoint a new spokesperson or chair if the head of council is not performing the duties professionally.
"So this is a way to help that person recognize that the majority of council doesn't have to put up with this," he said.
"Whatever the reason may be, those are options depending on circumstances."
Epp said he has seen some misconceptions about the powers and responsibilities that heads of council hold.
"In Manitoba, the extra powers that a head of council has are extremely limited."
He said reeves and mayors can call meetings, declare an emergency if there is not time for council to meet, and have signing authorities for the municipality.
ST. ANDREWS MAYOR SUSPECTS 'DOMINO EFFECT' ACROSS MANITOBA
The proposed changes in Armstrong have the mayor of a neighbouring rural municipality concerned.
St. Andrews Mayor Joy Sul said Armstrong's draft bylaws are nearly identical to those passed in her rural municipality more than a year ago.
Epp, who served as interim CAO for a time in St. Andrews, confirmed he used the bylaws in St. Andrews as a model for the proposed changes in Armstrong based on what council was asking for.
As CTV News previously reported in December 2019, shortly after introducing new bylaws, St. Andrews councillors voted to remove the mayor as chair and spokesperson of the community.
At the time, Sul said the move was unprecedented. Now she believes it could happen again in the RM of Armstrong.
"It's very disturbing," she told CTV News.
"This has eliminated any reasons for a mayor ballot, just vote in five or seven councillors and flip a coin to see who the leader will be – resident voices don't count."
Sul said she believes other Manitoba rural municipalities may look to implement similar bylaws.
"Who's next?" she said. "I suspect this will be a domino effect across the province."
Winnipeg Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
With just two days until election day, the Conservative Party won't say whether they will require any candidates elected to be members of Parliament to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before heading to sit in the House of Commons, in contrast to the positions of the Liberals, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois.
With the 2021 federal election just two days away, it is still a tight race between the Liberals and Conservatives, according to the latest polling data from Nanos Research released on Saturday.
Anti-vaccine protesters allegedly entered multiple schools in B.C.'s Shuswap region Friday, prompting strong words from district officials.
Four U.S. senators have asked U.S. President Joe Biden to lift restrictions that have barred travel by Canadians across the northern U.S. border since March 2020.
A campaign that started with anger over Justin Trudeau's decision to call an election in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is ending amid anger over conservative premiers' handling of the health crisis.
With a fourth wave of the pandemic underway, provinces and territories are responding with a variety of restrictions. CTVNews.ca looks at what is and is not allowed in each jurisdiction.
The death of a one-year-old child in the Township of Wellesley is being investigated as a homicide.
The federal Liberals say a candidate in downtown Toronto will no longer run under their banner after it came to light that he had previously faced a sexual assault charge that was later dropped.
Humboldt RCMP have arrested and charged four people after seizing several drugs, ammunition and other prohibited items.
Saskatchewan’s far north COVID-19 case rate in the last seven days is sitting at 1,180 per 100,000 people – the highest across Canada.
As the province prepares to roll out proof of vaccination, some are concerned that the aging portion of Saskatchewan’s population may not be able to easily adapt to the QR code that is planned on being used.
The Saskatchewan Health Authority's Emergency Operations Centre directed leaders and care teams to move to a second phase of surge plans that include a temporary slowdown of elective procedures province-wide.
Since we are about to officially close the doors on the summer 2021 season, our atmosphere decided to give us one last taste of the sun, wind and heat.
The Calgary Fire Department says it responded to the scene of two house fires and a blaze inside an RV that broke out early Saturday morning.
Emergency crews are at the scene of a fire that broke out inside a condo building in Calgary's southwest.
Officials at Calgary's Heritage Park say they made a 'difficult decision' to cancel a fundraising event, which ticket holders said was done at the last minute.
Alberta reported more than 2,000 daily COVID-19 cases for the first time since May on Friday.
A 24-year-old mother and her 16-month-old were found dead in Hinton, Alta., RCMP said.
The term 'triage' may be a scary one to hear, but Alberta's health authorities are preparing its staff and the public for the possibility of that extreme measure.
A new Ontario mom is now learning she doesn’t qualify for parental leave benefits and will have to return to work much sooner than expected.
The province just hit a new milestone in the number of cannabis retailers on our streets.
Quebec's Ministry of Health reported Saturday that 821 more people have tested positive for COVID-19 with 658 of those not fully vaccinated.
Two armed assaults left one man dead and two injured last night in Montreal.
A Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled that, unlike in Ontario, the court cannot require jurors in a criminal trial to be fully vaccinated.
Ottawa Public Health says 65 more people in the city have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of known active cases continues to rise.
Ottawa paramedics say three people have been taken to the Ottawa Hospital following a crash on Highway 416.
Ontario Provincial Police responded to the single vehicle crash on Christie Lake North Shore Road in Tay Valley Township.
The Callander Bay Heritage Museum is thrilled to announce it has received a collection of Dionne Quintuplets memorabilia as part of a large donation.
Glencore vice-president Peter Xavier recently gave an update to what the mining giant is up to at the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce AGM in Copper Cliff. Among one of the big highlights was 'Onaping Depth,' a new ore body they're reaching at a cost of $1.3 billion.
Nova Scotia's Progressive Conservative premier has asked people who protested proof-of-vaccination policies outside the home of the province's chief medical officer of health to consider acting more like adults.
As many as 150 people gathered at Halifax City Hall on Saturday calling for a ban on tent evictions for those experiencing homelessness in the city.
The cause of the tragic trailer fire in Millvale, N.S., that killed a family of six has been ruled accidental.
The death of a one-year-old child in the Township of Wellesley is being investigated as a homicide.
An Arthur family says they have a “horse of a lifetime” after their three-year-old pacer took home the top prize in a million dollar race.
A child under the age of 10, who Waterloo Region's medical officer of health said had underlying health conditions, has died due to COVID-19.
While Metro Vancouver saw an unprecedented amount of rain on Friday, the slopes of Whistler, B.C. saw snow.
A B.C. Supreme Court justice has ordered the City of Surrey to pay more than $200,000 to the former owners of a car dealership the city partially expropriated back in 2012.
Premier John Horgan says the province is willing to help Alberta when it comes to battling COVID-19, but the priority is on ensuring hospitals in British Columbia don't become overwhelmed.
There’s always been something special about Norman. The Japanese mastiff is a universal blood donor and has saved the lives of 16 other dogs. Now, a fundraiser to pay for an expensive surgery for Norman has surpassed its goal in just a day.
Technically, it’s still summer, but Friday felt like winter. The rain fell hard on Southern Vancouver Island, where total precipitation was expected to be in the 35-millimetre range through the evening.
Almost 200 nurses rallied at Premier John Horgan’s constituency office Friday to demand an end to the chronic nursing shortage in B.C. hospitals and patient care facilities.