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RM of Reford council meeting ends in wave of resignations

Three councillors, reeve and two administrators resign.
By the end of June 8's meeting of the RM of Reford council, there was no quorum left.

WILKIE — After an in-camera session dealing with harassment claims and human resource issues, the regular meeting of council for the RM of Reford No. 379 June 8 ended early when almost everyone resigned.

The meeting ended dramatically when Reeve Gerald Gerlinsky tendered his resignation, effective immediately. That resignation was quickly followed by councillor Evan Johnson resigning. Quentin Sittler tendered the resignation of Nathan Keller, who was absent, and then also resigned himself.

Acting administrator Curt Kowalchuk, who had resigned earlier, asked if anyone else was resigning, and Deputy Reeve Greg Sutherland asked for a minute to write out his resignation, did so and left the council chambers, as had all others who resigned.

With only Lyle Ulsifer and Daryl Glackin remaining, quorum was lost and the majority of the items on the meeting agenda were not dealt with.

To compound the issues of governance of the rural municipality, an earlier in camera session saw resignations tendered by Kowalchuk and by assistant administrator Wanda Laturnus, both effective June 29. A motion was passed by council to accept those resignations prior to the reeve’s resignation.

Gerlinsky referred to the resignations of the office staff before tendering his own, saying he didn’t want to put in the time to find new staff.

Section 399(5) of The Municipalities Act allows the Minister of Government Relations, currently Don McMorris, to “appoint a person or persons who shall have all the powers and duties of the council … if the remaining members do not constitute a quorum.” The minister also has the power to “direct the election of a new council or of a member of council.”

No response has yet been received from the ministry as to what steps they will take.

That there was some dissension in the room was evident from the start of the meeting as Ulsifer made a motion to remove Gerlinsky as chair. That motion was defeated.

The minutes of the previous meeting were accepted, following which council went in camera, six minutes after the meeting started, to deal with a number of harassment complaints and some other human resource issues. It was following the in-camera session, after passing some regular motions arising from that session such as the hiring of a new grader operator, that the wave of resignations began.

The RM of Reford No. 379 shares an office building with the RM of Buffalo No. 409, in the town of Wilkie. The 2021 census showed a population of 222 persons residing in the Reford RM.