The County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet are moving ahead with legal action against the City of Wetaskiwin, with the city’s departure from a group initiative the major issue.
The County of Wetaskiwin confirmed to the Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer the last week of June that county council, along with the Town of Millet council, had decided to seek legal action against the city.
It was stated that the legal action had been decided after the City of Wetaskiwin had provided notice that it was no longer required to pay revenue sharing related to the Joint Economic Development Initiative, or JEDI, which the city withdrew from in January, 2018.
County of Wetaskiwin Reeve Terry Van de Kraats said the council agreed to go that way because the city actually notified the county and town that the city itself was going to pursue legal action.
“We were willing to sit down and talk with them but they weren’t willing to go that route,” said Van de Kraats by phone July 4.
The disagreement is focused on what financial obligation the city has to the revenue sharing agreement that is at the heart of JEDI. Van de Kraats said the county and town offered the city arbitration, but that was turned down.
Van de Kraats said the two remaining partners in JEDI, the County of Wetaskiwin and Town of Millet, feel the City of Wetaskiwin still bears responsibility for the revenue sharing agreement for years that the city was a member of JEDI.
When contacted by email July 2, the City of Wetaskiwin stated it would not comment. “We are choosing to wait for the issue to resolve itself through the legal system before providing comments,” stated the city communications department in an email July 3.
An email was also sent by The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer July 2 to Town of Millet Mayor Tony Wadsworth. However, no response was received by deadline.
Van de Kraats added that the goal of the legal action is to define what the city’s role is in the context of JEDI’s revenue sharing agreement. “The goal is that under the agreement as we believe it to be we still revenue share under what the agreement was for years we were all in there,” said Van de Kraats, who noted the legal action shouldn’t have negative effects on relationships between the municipalities.
“We continue to have a relationship with the City of Wetaskiwin and they say the same toward us,” said Van de Kraats.
How long the issue will remain in court isn’t known, stated the reeve. “It takes as long as it takes,” he added.