By Kevin J Sabo
For the Advance
Voter identification and animal control dominated the April 8 regular Castor council meeting.
With recent changes to provincial election laws and the democratic process falling under three separate pieces of provincial, federal, and municipal government, town administration has moved to close a loophole in the electoral process that could allow one of the nominees to call foul in the event of a close vote.
Bylaw 1067, proof of residency during an election or byelection bylaw, was passed during the April 8 meeting, and requires all residents in the community to produce two pieces of identification. The first must be a photo identification issued by the municipal, provincial, or federal government, and the second must be a proof of residency in Castor, such as a town bill.
The reason for the change is that provincial election laws changed on Jan. 1st, where the Province removed the six-month residency requirement to vote in elections. Under the current system, as long as you have proof of residency in the province, you can vote in the general election.
The Town decided to add the stipulation of a proof of residency in Castor to prevent people outside the community coming in and voting. Castor’s byelection is the first one under the updated rules.
“We don’t have any choice, I don’t think,” said Deputy Mayor Tony Nichols during the meeting.
“It has to be done,” echoed Coun. Trudy Kilner.
By requiring the proof of residency as part of the electoral process, this bylaw will effectively remove the possibility of unauthorized people from voting, and the nominees will not be able to come back at the town saying one or the other lost due to people voting who shouldn’t have (because they live in the county, etc.)
The bylaw passed all three readings during the meeting.
Due to some issues of animals wandering into town from the county, council has directed CAO Christopher Robblee to prepare an amendment to the current animal control bylaw.
At issue is the repeated incidence of a rural property owner’s pet pig walking into town. With the most recent excursion requiring three Town employees two hours to corral the animal, administration is looking for guidance from council on how to recover costs.
Since the rural property owner does not pay taxes in town, at the moment all administration can do is return the animal to the owner. and ask them to not allow the incident to happen again.
“This isn’t the first time this has happened,” said Town Foreman Arajan Van Hienen, indicating that the same animal had been loose last year as well. A proposed amendment to the Animal Control Bylaw would see the Town holding the animal until a fine is paid, regardless of whether the owner is in town or not.
“If the owner doesn’t want to pay the fine or want their animal back it will go to an animal rescue,” said Robblee. In event that the individual in question were to refuse to pay the fine, there would also be a way to have the fine applied to Alberta Registry services (such as when you renew your drivers licence).
Council voted in favour of CAO Robblee preparing changes to the current bylaw and bringing them before council at a subsequent meeting.