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Athabascans heading to the polls

Two candidates for one vacant seat on council

ATHABASCA — It’s official, residents in the Town of Athabasca will get to pick one of two people to fill the seat left vacant following Loretta Prosser’s Oct. 18 resignation. 

Vying for the seat are Tracker’s Pet Supply owner Steve Splinter and former Servus Credit Union manager Darlene Reimer who are both active volunteers and well known in the community. 

"The advance poll opens Feb. 2 between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.,” said Town of Athabasca CFO and returning officer Jeff Dalley. “Regular polling is open Feb. 13 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and both will be held in the Town of Athabasca administration building.” 

“Also, on election day, we will have a travelling poll at Extendicare, Pleasant Valley Lodge, and the Athabasca Healthcare Centre for residents at those facilities only.” 

Voters must provide proof of identity in the form on a passport, driver’s licence or other government identification card, bank or credit card statement, a government issued cheque or cheque stub, an income or property tax assessment notice, insurance policy or card, pension statement, lease or mortgage statement, utility bill or even vehicle ownership with the registration or insurance card. 

“If someone doesn’t have those things, they can get a letter attesting who they are and where they live signed by an authorized representative of a commercial property management company, a correctional institution, a First Nations band or reserve, someone at a homeless facility or from a supportive living or treatment centre,” Dalley said, noting the full list is on the Town of Athabasca website. 

The election falls under the Local Authorities Election Act which Dalley, as the returning officer, is following to ensure it goes smoothly. 

“The Act identifies the rules and regulations for candidates, donors, electors, and election administrators,” he said. "They must be followed before, during and after an election.” 

Questions about voting can be forwarded to Dalley at 780-675-2063 or e-mail 

Resignation leading to byelection 

Prosser won her seat in the 2021 municipal election, finishing sixth out of the six and less than a year later ran into trouble when she took a leave of absence from work and council duties, resulting in communication concerns. 

Prosser had been away from her primary employment with a doctor’s note granting her medical leave, but after missing the Oct. 4, 2022, meeting, her fourth consecutive absence, council voted down a motion from Coun. Ida Edwards which would have given Prosser one more meeting to return. 

That meant Prosser met the requirements for disqualification under the Municipal Government Act, Sct. 174(1)b, that states a councillor is disqualified if “the councillor is absent from all regular council meetings held during any period of 8 consecutive weeks, starting with the date that the first meeting is missed,” barring a council resolution. 

The first absence occurred Aug. 16, exactly eight weeks prior to the Oct. 4 meeting. 

Under Sct. 175(1) of the MGA, “a councillor that is disqualified must resign immediately.” If they do not resign, council may seek an order from a King’s Bench judge to declare a person to be disqualified, at which point the judge will either affirm the disqualification and leave the position vacant; invalidate the disqualification and allow the councillor to return; or dismiss the application altogether. 

Prosser submitted her resignation letter Oct. 18, 2022, one year to the day after being elected. 

Heather Stocking

About the Author: Heather Stocking

Heather Stocking a reporter at the Athabasca Advocate, a weekly paper in Northern Alberta. Heather covers all aspects of the news in and around Athabasca and Boyle as well as other small communities.
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