By Tim Kalinowski
Despite public criticism of its proposed “Communication with Litigants” bylaw amendment, Redcliff council defiantly passed the measure at Monday night’s meeting.
Coun. Larry Leipert, whose stand against the bylaw brought it to public notice two weeks ago, made one last ditch effort to have the bylaw tabled for further study and possible re-wording.
Leipert’s motion was defeated by a vote of 5-1. Coun. Eric Solberg was not present to record his vote.
Coun. Jim Steinke then moved for second reading and third reading and the motion was carried.
Leipert said he had done all he could to draw attention to what he thought was an unconstitutional law.
“I think it’s a lot easier to keep your rights then to try and get them back after they have been taken away, but I did all I could,” said Leipert after the vote. “I guess the next step is if you have enough people that feel that their rights are eroded they would have to go and petition against this bylaw.”
Leipert predicted the new amendments to the procedural bylaw would have a chilling effect on local citizens.
“It likely intimidates people from coming to council,” said Leipert. “There are people who would likely not want to be associated with someone who goes for a complaint because you can be demonized and defamed alongside them. This (amendment) opens a whole kettle of worms.”
Mayor Ernie Reimer said he had no second thoughts after the bylaw vote, and that he had personally heard no public criticism about it.
“I didn’t get too much feedback other than one of our council members,” said Reimer. “We stand by our decision, and it’s not inflammatory at all as far as I’m concerned.”
Danica Prpick has a long history of public quarrels with Redcliff’s town council over the past several years and is currently engaged in legal action against the town. Prpick felt this bylaw was, without a doubt, aimed directly at her.
“This was absolutely aimed at me and others who have caused trouble for council,” said Prpick when asked for comment on Tuesday. “It doesn’t seem strange to me they would create a bylaw to keep me and others away from council. It, unfortunately, seems par for the course.”
Prpick went on to say she believes the new law will dissuade local citizens from getting involved in the political process, and she feels this is the bylaw’s true intent.
“It’s very hard to fight city hall, and they have put in a number of bylaws that are very limiting and restrictive,” said Prpick. “Most people aren’t very persistent. I definitely think this bylaw will dissuade others from getting involved in the political process in Redcliff, but it won’t dissuade me.”