Fort Simpson council finds ‘no issue’ over transparency concerns
Fort Simpson’s village council has dismissed the suggestion of a resigning councillor that it was ignoring principles of good governance.
Kirby Groat announced he was stepping down on May 19, listing four core responsibilities of municipal governance and stating: “This council has not upheld these principles.”
Council has since moved to replace Groat, who was the second councillor in a month to resign.
At a special meeting on Thursday, councillors discussed an accountability framework review – a document designed to help municipal governments report on how they govern and provide programs and services.
Mayor Sean Whelly said a number of council members took issue with Groat’s characterization of council’s approach.
Councillor Marie Lafferty said after Groat stepped down: “I think he’s wrong … that he’s trying to say that we are incompetent, that we’re not running the village the way we should be.”
Whelly said accountability framework reviews are designed to ensure the territorial Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (Maca) knows work is being done and each council remains accountable for its decisions.
“It’s not an independent assessment of your performance,” Whelly said. “[Maca] reviews it and makes recommendations or suggestions. This framework accountability tool has been used by communities in the North now for five or six years.”
Whelly said council decided there was no need to further review Groat’s concerns.
“There will be no formal response to former councillor Groat’s resignation letter,” he said.
“However, the council did review the last accountability framework report from 2017-2018 and noted the positive work that has been done in any areas of deficiency since this council began serving.”
He said the report would be made available online for residents.
“Council took the time to review our situation and feels there is no issue here,” said Whelly.
“No community is perfect, but good work on making improvements is happening in Fort Simpson.”