A petition requesting a ministerial inspection of Rocky View County (RVC) submitted to Alberta Municipal Affairs minister Kaycee Madu falls well short of the 8,000 signatures required.
Still, Janet Ballantyne, of a group of concerned county residents, says the minister still can use his discretion to step in and believes they have demonstrated there is concern.
In total, 4,595 signatures were collected by over 100 volunteers since the petition was launched on Sept. 17 to force a municipal review of RVC's management, administration, and council. They had 60 days to collect the signatures and presented the petition to the minister's office in Edmonton on Nov. 15.
Ballantyne says they hold out hope because the governing United Conservative Party is known as a grassroots party that listens to the people.
"Even though we didn't reach 20 per cent, the numbers that we got clearly indicate there is a lot of dissatisfaction in Rocky View. It's hard to see what we did as sending any other message than that."
She says 90 per cent of the people reached signed the petition.
"What we found was literally across the board," says Ballantyne. "When we found people at home, over 90 per cent of them happily signed the petition."
Residents started the petition because of the sanctions imposed on three Rocky View councillors by their six colleagues, explains Ballantyne. However, the sanctions are not the focus of the petition. She says residents have questioned County practices and Council decision-making for over a decade.
If a review is granted, Rocky View County Reeve Greg Boehlke isn't sure what they expect to find.
"I have no idea what they think they're going to find," says Reeve Boehlke. "We have a very open and transparent process here."
"This group has been looking for problems in this county for almost 10 years, and they haven't found anything. The amount of money that they have cost the taxpayers here is astronomical."
He says it reared its head because three councillors, who have been sanctioned, aren't happy. They broke some conduct rules when they publically question the hiring practices used to hired new Chief Administrative Officer Al Hoggan.
Boehlke says they followed the established process to hire Hoggan, and believes he's doing a fine job.
"We've got a real minority of council that is disgruntled and unhappy. That's unfortunate. Unfortunately, they don't know their role as a councillor, and they're frustrated."
He questions if people signing the petition truly understood what they were signing.
"Some people sign petitions without doing real research on what's going on. They take people at face value. The other thing is that people don't like is controversy, so they sign things to get them off their doorstep."
Ballantyne is unsure how long it will be before they hear back by the ministerial but they will start to inquire after a few weeks.