Crowsnest Pass Ratepayers Association gathered in the Hillcrest Miner’s Club after a last minute meeting was called with MLA Pat Stier to discuss a plan of action of how to get council to listen to their multiplying concerns.
On Monday, October 1st, Blairmore fire chief Jamie Margetak was released of his active duties- an action that prompted firemen from all over the municipality to hand in their pagers in protest.
The meeting, which took place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, October 4th, was hosted by Ratepayer Association’s elected president, Bill Kovach. The meeting saw an audience of close to 100 people.
“This is a protest. We all respect Jamie Margetak; he deserves his position, and he earned his position,” said Jamie Tompson at the meeting. “We have until 7 o’clock tonight to make our concerns known. I believe there are ways to do it,” Tompson said.”
I believe that council is taking the stance that we need to burn down this community before we can rebuild it- figuratively.
But unfortunately, they’re doing it literally.”
An audience member brought a press release that was posted on the municipality’s website and Facebook page earlier that morning. “They’re saying to Station 25 that these members lack professionalism and regard for public safety,” she said, reading off the press release.
“Now that’s personal stuff. These guys struggled with the decision they were faced with.”
Another audience member stood up and said enough is enough.
“This is the final straw, we have had enough. Administration should apologize to Jamie, reinstate him, and lose their jobs.”
Pat Stier said that this is a delicate situation and in order to accomplish what they want, they have to go through the right process.
“You should contact Municipal Affairs immediately with your concerns,” Stier said, adding that he can’t get involved because if he did, he could get the Ratepayers Association and himself into trouble.
“You perhaps want to concentrate on the things that would be the most effective. Following the highroad is often the most effective. Following the procedures outlined in the MGA is often the most effective. To deviate against those would work against you. I can’t emphasize that strong enough.”
He said that petitions are very particular and they must done correctly in order to achieve the goal.
“Petitions are very particular. There is a legal way to do them and that has to be followed exactly,” he said.
“From what I have observed, there is a bunch of stuff that has occurred. Someone has been relieved of his or her job. That is an isolated incident. Someone has reacted to that; that’s another incident. You have a complaints against your local authority on a number of matters,” he said.
“You want to deal with all of these things effectively. If the volunteers decide not to volunteer as of 7 o’clock tonight, that’s their choice. Is that the right choice? Is there a higher road that can be taken in lieu of that? These things need to be carefully thought out. There may be other choices that you would want to come up with that would not jeopardize health and safety, but also be effective” he said.
In response to that, Bill Kovach said that some of those high roads have already been taken for quite a few months.
“We have tried to reason with them, we have tried many times,” Kovach said.
A protest was called during the meeting for 2 p.m. later that afternoon outside the Municipal Office. Around 100 protesters showed up to voice their concerns.
A letter by Bill Kovach on behalf of the Rate Payers Association was sent to the Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths on Thursday, October 4th.