None of the members of St. Albert city council were particularly surprised by anything found within the municipal inspection.
All councillors agreed that with only two meetings left in their term, the results of the inspection were more to assist the next council to avoid the problem this council had during their four-year term.
Mayor Nolan Crouse said that a great deal of the report is “cookie cutter” and much of the information contained within the 189 pages could be applied to any council in Alberta.
“He ended up being very shallow on content … The next council may just choose to do nothing. That being said there is a lot of good cookie cutter stuff there,” Crouse said.
Councillor Cam MacKay, who is running for mayor, said that he thinks that the report is well done and many of the recommendations make sense.
“We got into problems because we didn’t have good checks and balances at the city,” MacKay said. “If there was a problem about conduct it was up to council to deal with exclusively.”
Many of the councillors said that a lot of the issues that were raised have already been addressed in council. Council has already tightened up the code of conduct, created a position for an internal auditor and an integrity commissioner.
Coun. Tim Osborne said that many of the recommendations provide tangible solutions to improve some of their processes moving forward. He said that the orientation process, agenda packages and committees can be strengthened as a result of the recommendations.
Coun. Cathy Heron, who is also running for the mayor’s seat, said that some of the recommendations she had already come up with on her own. She said that council called the province in to help them deal with internal conflict and she said none of the recommendations will really solve them going into the future.
“The council code of conduct probably did a better job at solving those problems than the inspection report,” Heron said.
Coun. Bob Russell said that he agreed with the report’s assertion that the agendas were too big and wants administration to tackle more of the fine details.
“I think we need to let administration do more of that role. We tend to get into managing a little too much,” Russell said.
Councillor Sheena Hughes said it was nice to see the serious issues the team faced acknowledged by an outside body.
“The division on council was for the most part, was the result of councillors responding differently to the challenges put in front of us,” Hughes said.
Councillor Wes Brodhead said that it was a little disappointing that it wasn’t a more strongly worded document but he has learned from the experience.
Brodhead said that he was embarrassed that council had to do it and is not proud that St. Albert had to be taken through the process.
“I think we are required to take our lumps, go home and commit to doing better,” Brodhead said.