The Village of McBride is taking strides to restoring its local government operations after three of its four councillors suddenly resigned last month.
On Thursday, the Province appointed Isabell Hadford as the Village’s new Municipal Advisor. Hadford is a former municipal chief administrative officer in British Columbia with 25 years of experience in smaller, rural communities. Her role will involve working with council, staff, and community to stabilize short-term government operations and help support long-term confidence.
Speaking of council, the only elected officials remaining in McBride are Mayor Loranne Martin and Rick Thompson. As of November 29th, Minister of Community, Sport, and Cultural Development, Peter Fassbender signed a Ministerial Order allowing the two to form a quorum until new people are elected to fill vacancies.
Thompson says the resignations came as a great surprise to him. “I have been involved in politics for 13 years and I haven’t had this so it was a shock.”
Thompson added that meetings are cancelled and have remained cancelled until further direction from the Ministry.
During the period of transition, both members of McBride Council have been advised not to make any long-term decisions that may create legal or financial liabilities for the village. Council must now take immediate steps to appoint a chief electoral officer (CEO) and deputy chief officer to run the by-election. The appointment of a CEO is expected at a council meeting on December 19th.
Once appointed, Thompson said a by-election must fall on a Saturday no later than 80 days after the CEO is appointed. “I think that once we get the by-election behind us and we do some strategic planning and looking forward and community building, I think we’ll be able to get things moving forward in a positive way.”
Canada’s Research Chair for Rural & Small Town Studies, Greg Halseth says the key ingredient for McBride’s success will be staying attentive to a long term process of change. “For the few communities that have been able to get a new vision for their community and their economy and then stay the course for the long term, they have been much more successful in navigating those transitions,” Halseth said. “They’re much more ready to adapt to what will come in terms of social change or economic change and that sort of thing.”
For now, McBride has big decisions to make including the passing of a budget in the new year and dealing with local employment issues, Thompson said. “Employment is a big challenge as it is in a lot of small areas, we don’t have any large employers so we’re dependent on our small business economy.”
Thompson mentioned that residents of the community have stepped forward with concerns and he hopes for a smooth transition. “McBride is a great community and we need to get the house in order and move forward.”