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Court rules against former Chestermere mayor's bid for reinstatement

From left: Mel Foat, Stephen Hanley, Jeff Colvin and Blaine Funk. The former mayor and city councillors argued in court that the decision to dismiss them caused 'irreparable harm.' On Friday, a judge disagreed with them, dismissing their application to be reinstated. (Bryan Labby/CBC - image credit)
From left: Mel Foat, Stephen Hanley, Jeff Colvin and Blaine Funk. The former mayor and city councillors argued in court that the decision to dismiss them caused 'irreparable harm.' On Friday, a judge disagreed with them, dismissing their application to be reinstated. (Bryan Labby/CBC - image credit)

A court application by the former mayor of Chestermere and three former city councillors to be reinstated to those positions has been turned down.

Mayor Jeff Colvin and councillors Mel Foat, Blaine Funk and Stephen Hanley were removed from office by Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver on Dec. 4. The dismissal followed a provincial inspection looking into how the city just east of Calgary was managed and governed.

That inspection report said the city was being managed in an irregular, improper and improvident manner.

McIver let council members know last October that he intended to dismiss them and then followed through seven weeks later. He spared councillors Ritesh Narayan, Sandy Johal-Watt and Shannon Dean. Johal-Watt has since resigned.

In the application before Court of King's Bench Justice J.C. Price, Colvin and the former councillors argued their dismissal ran contrary to the decision made by voters in the October 2021 municipal election. They said the inspection report was filled with factual errors and was based on opinions, speculation, hearsay and innuendo.

They also argued the dismissals caused the four men "irreparable harm."

In her decision, released Friday, Price said she found that an affidavit sworn by Colvin in December "fails to identify any harm to the applicants themselves."

Addressing the assertion that the public interest will be at risk if the four men are not returned to their positions, she said she was "mindful" that the minister found that the applicants were managing the city in "an irregular, improper, and improvident manner," and so was not satisfied that the public interest would be harmed if they weren't returned to their posts.

"In the result, the balance of convenience does not favour granting an injunction," Price's decision said.

When asked by CBC News to comment on the decision, Colvin wrote in an email that he was disappointed the judge ruled that he and the other applicants didn't provide enough evidence of harm to themselves.

"That was never the point, we are concerned about the harm the community is experiencing with one person making major decisions for our community, and having no background in our community," Colvin wrote, referring to the administrator appointed by the province to manage city business.

Colvin said he plans to appeal the decision and continues to seek a judicial review of his termination.