SANDRA M STANWAY
Eastern Irrigation District voters in divisions two, four and seven will go to the polls on April 16.
The Division 2 seat is held by Jim Culligan and the Division 4 seat is held by Rod Johnson. The Division 7 seat vacated by George Murray in August is also up for grabs.
The AGM is set for March 19 and the last day to file nominations is March 20. The first day to file nominations has not been set.
“Our legislation does not specify a point in time to accept nominations,” stated Wendy Enns, the district’s executive secretary.
Although irrigation districts were mentioned as an area requiring much needed updates such as advance polls as part of Bill 23, An Act to Renew Local Democracy in Alberta, irrigation districts are not mentioned in the proposed Bill.
Under the current law, the EID is not permitted to hold an advanced poll, however, if they do get the OK to hold them, they will be sometime during the first two weeks of April.
“Even though, right now, we’re not allowed to hold an advanced vote we understand the department (Alberta Agriculture and Forestry) is looking at that,” said Kevin Bridges, assistant general manager.
If a decision is made by the province by about mid-February, the district will likely consider holding an advance poll.
Board members questioned the time of year for the elections because some voters are working and find it difficult to cast a ballot.
“Too bad we couldn’t push it back to January. Everybody complains about the spring election,” said Johnson.
The EID has traditionally closed nominations the day after the annual general meeting but if the board wants to change the date, they only have to pass a bylaw three months ahead of the proposed date.
“If that’s something you want us to think about, we can certainly look at it for the following year,” Bridges said.
If there is a proposed date change for the AGM that would also have to wait at least a year to reorganize times for items such as end of the year financial audits.
The board follows parts of the Elections Authorities Act except where it’s modified by the Irrigation Districts Act (IDA).
Culligan, who is apparently living in Maple Creek, SK., said under the IDA you don’t have to be a resident to be elected to an irrigation board.
“I can live in Maple Creek and still be on the board,” he said.