A group of concerned residents is circulating a petition asking Burns Lake council members to be more “supportive, positive and collaborative.”
The group has been handing out paper petitions around town since Oct. 26, and has also started a petition online.
As of Monday, 35 people had signed the online petition; however, the group does not know how many people have signed the paper petitions since these have yet to be collected.
According to Burns Lake resident Guy Epkens-Shaffer, one of approximately 15 people behind the initiative, the petition gives council members a “nudge.”
“This petition is a vehicle to provide an indication of how community members would like their councillors to conduct themselves in the future,” explained Epkens-Shaffer. “This is a way to give a nudge, with the hopes of encouraging the councillors to continue to be collaborative and positive in their role as our representatives.”
“The community members of the Lakes District, those within the village boundaries and those in the outlying areas consider Burns Lake to be their home community,” he said. “The health, well-being and reputation of Burns Lake has an impact on all local citizens.
“I have spoken to a number of community members who have expressed concerns regarding the direction and actions of the council members and several suggested that a petition might be helpful.”
Concerns cited in the petition include village staff turnover, the findings of the recreation department’s organizational review, and the fact that the chief administrative office is no longer allowed to speak with the media.
In 2017, the Village of Burns Lake had to replace its city clerk, the directors of recreation and finance, and appoint staff members to fulfill the CAO duties while she was absent. A byelection will be held in January to elect a new councillor.
According to the village’s recreation organizational review, relations between recreation staff and elected officials have deteriorated over the years, with staff reporting a feeling of not being supported by council. The review was conducted by Acumen HR Solutions earlier this year. A summary was released in September 2017 and the full report was eventually released after Lakes District News filed a Freedom of Information Act request.
Burns Lake council also changed the way the village responds to media requests since September 2017, no longer allowing the chief administrative officer to speak on behalf of city hall. Council is now reviewing and responding to all media requests.
Lakes District News has contacted each council member twice via email to ask for a response in regard to the petition and the concerns raised. Council has responded with a single statement via email.
“Mayor and council take all legitimate concerns from Village of Burns Lake taxpayers seriously,” says council’s statement. “If a petition is delivered to council, it will be reviewed and council will consider any such concerns in a timely manner.”
The online petition requires people to provide their first and last names and their email address. The paper petition requires people to provide their full name, signature, address and date.
The group intends to present the petition to Burns Lake council during a council meeting on Dec. 13, 2017.