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Third resignation for Irricana Council this term

An Irricana town councillor has resigned after nine months, alleging bullying and mismanagement. He is the third to resign since the October election.

Turmoil within Irricana’s town council is continuing.

The Town of just over 1,200 people located east of Airdrie has seen three town councillors resign since the October 2021 election. The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Barrie Hutchinson is currently on a leave of absence. Prior to that, a review of his work had been launched by the Town.

Anton van Arendonk is the latest to announce his resignation from council, which he explained in a lengthy Facebook post last week.

“I need to start out with an apology to the residents of Irricana,” van Arendonk wrote. “I am sorry to all the residents who voted for me in the October 2021 election. I am sorry that I was not able to affect a positive change, I was not able to let your voices be heard and I am sorry that I was not able to apply the foundations that I promised I would try to in my campaign.”

Van Arendonk’s post criticized the current council and the way the Town is run.

“I have never, in any part of my life, come across a group of individuals so bent on maintaining the status quo,” the first-time council member wrote. “This council and administration has been involved in public and private bullying, shaming, intimidation, condoning physical assault, defamation, financial and business ineptitude, as well as ethical and bylaw violations.”

He accused council of not following the rules set out for them and improper budget reporting.

“The current town council and administration are not following the Municipal Government Act or even our own bylaws… In the last nine months I have done everything I could; shown the proper procedures and bylaws, filed official complaints to the rest of council, to the MLA, Alberta Ombudsman and the Minister of Municipal Affairs,” van Arendonk wrote.

He said in the post he has been bullied and said other councillors have made his life miserable.

Corine Newman, interim CAO for the Town of Irricana, said a byelection will be held likely in September to replace the two vacated positions. She said the current roster of three councillors is the minimum needed to maintain quorum so council can continue doing its job.

In the meantime, Bob Day, the husband of former Irricana Town councillor Debbie Day, has been charged with assault in relation to an incident at a by-election in May.

Cpl. Gina Slaney, RCMP media relations officer for Southern Alberta, confirmed Bob Day has been charged with a single count of assault and will make his first appearance in Drumheller Provincial Court on Sept. 16.

Day resigned her seat on council in early June.

The May by-election was to replace former mayor Frank Friesen, who moved to Beiseker, which disqualified him from maintaining his council seat in Irricana.

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