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Div. 2 heads to the polls this Sept. 17. Meanwhile, Sturgeon ponders community standards.
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Sturgeon County residents will head to the polls for a byelection on Sept. 17. FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

By-election ahead

Division 2 residents will head to the polls on Sept. 17 to choose their new voice on county council after Sturgeon County council voted 6-0 Tuesday to hold a byelection for Division 2 councillor.

Susan Evans resigned as Div. 2 councillor on June 27. Sturgeon County is obliged under provincial law to replace her within 90 days (i.e. by Sept. 25) through a byelection.

Returning officer Jesse Sopko said he picked Sept. 17 as Election Day to give anyone who might be gone all summer time to meet the candidates.

Council heard that this election would differ from the 2017 general election due to recent changes to the Local Authorities Election Act.

Instead of having just one Nomination Day to declare your candidacy for the election, for example, you now have from the date the election is declared to six weeks before the election to do so. In this case, that means anytime between July 10 and Aug. 6.

“People can be nominated as early as tomorrow and start campaigning tomorrow,” Sopko said on Tuesday.

Voters will also for the first time be able to ask election officers to come to their homes to accept their ballots if they can’t make it to the polls due to physical disability, Sopko said.

The byelection will otherwise feature the usual advance and mail-in vote options. Mail-in ballots can be requested by fax, phone, email, in writing or in person at the county office between July 10 and Sept. 9. Dates for the advance poll would be published on the county’s website July 10. You can vote in the byelection if you’re a Canadian citizen 18 years or older and live in Div. 2 on Election Day.

To run in the byelection, candidates must be able to vote in it and have lived in Div. 2 since Feb. 6. Residents can’t run if they’re the county’s auditor, work for the county (unless they take a leave of absence), are in default for more than $50 of county taxes, or were convicted of breaking any of Canada’s election laws in the last decade. Candidates must have their nomination forms into the county office by Aug. 6 along with a $25 deposit and the signatures of five Div. 2 residents to run.

Visit sturgeoncounty.ca for details on the by-election.

Community standards law

County residents could be fined $500 for having too-tall grass under a proposed community standards bylaw – one that would apply exclusively to residential areas.

County council was set to discuss a proposed community standards bylaw Tuesday at committee of the whole after this issue went to print.

Council and bylaw officers have for many years gotten complaints about noise, animals, and unsightly properties that aren’t covered by county laws, said county protective services manager Pat Mahoney in an interview. Administration is studying a potential community standards bylaw to fill this enforcement gap.

Mahoney said the law in its current form would only apply to residential zones, as that’s where 95 per cent of the complaints have originated.

“It has no bearing on agricultural activities,” he emphasized.

The draft law proposes an 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. quiet time in residential zones where disruptive noises would be banned, Mahoney said. Bylaw officers would have a lot of leeway to determine what constituted disruptive noise. Warning and church/school bells, and noise associated with newspaper or fresh produce deliveries would be allowed.

The draft bans residents from letting waste, animal parts, stinky materials, car parts, industrial fluids, or furniture pile up on their land. Up to two derelict cars would be permitted. Any construction materials must be for an on-site project that is imminent and has a fixed end date.

The draft also bans shining outdoor lights into another home without a permit, idling a car for more than 20 minutes unless it’s at or below -15 C, and letting vegetation grow over 15 cm tall unless it’s for a landscaping or naturalization effort.

The draft would let bylaw officers order residents to comply with the bylaw and issue fines of $250 to $1,000.

Mahoney said he hoped to have a draft of this bylaw before council for first reading this fall.


Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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