RM of Loon Lake councillors resign

by Phil Ambroziak

The RM of Loon Lake council is short two members following the recent resignation of councillors Nancy Butler and Wade Culbert.

Butler, the Division III representative and a veteran councillor with close to nine years of municipal experience, submitted her resignation Nov. 12 while Culbert, who was elected in 2011 to represent Division I, followed suit during the next day’s RM meeting. While Culbert could not be reached for comment, Butler said her decision to step down came after what she described as years of frustration with how the RM was being run.

“Nothing can be accomplished there,” Butler said. “I have to be careful with what I say, but I will not have my name associated with any form of corruption. It’s like a dictatorship there.”
By that, Butler claimed the majority of decisions are made by the reeve and administrator while there have also been several instances where the RM would “put the cart before the horse.”

“There were many times they would decide to do something before making a resolution – the resolution would come later,” she said. “And, anything Wade or I would bring forward or tried to support, the others would constantly vote down.”

Two examples she gave to substantiate this claim included council’s decision not to develop Culbert’s proposed low-level crossing in Division I and few returns in Division III in spite of the large tax base Butler said her area provides for the community.

“I just couldn’t do it anymore,” she added. “I would often come home from meetings upset and crying.”

Her resignation letter stated, due to the downward spiral of RM operations, she could no longer fulfil her duties.

According to RM reeve Bob Gristwood, however, all members of council are always given an equal opportunity to voice any questions or concerns they have about an issue, noting the importance of all council members to support decisions made by the group even if they don’t agree with them on a personal level.

“Yes, there would sometimes be items brought forward by Nancy, which council would discuss and later make a decision based on what they felt was the best thing to do,” Gristwood said. “I won’t deny there might have been one or two councillors who could have let personal conflicts weigh in on how they voted, but there were still enough people around that table to ensure the decisions being made were in the best interest of the Division or of the RM as a whole.”

Other council members include deputy-reeve James Schilling (Division VI), Murray Dopko in Division V, Randy Arlitt in Division II and Irving Melenchuk in Division IV.

“Every person who is at that table and who is an elected official all have a voice,” Gristwood continued. “If they have an opinion, there is more than ample time to discuss it. When we do call for a vote, the majority of council determines what the decision will be and we’re all required to adhere to that decision.”

The resignation of Culbert and Butler has now resulted in the need for by-elections in the RM. Potential candidates have until Jan. 15 to submit their nomination papers. The elections will take place Feb. 19.

Meanwhile, Butler said she has approached a few people about the possibility of running for council. But, it’s not something she plans to do again in the immediate future.

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