Letter to the PARCS Editor from OH of Pelican Cove:
As an elected official of the Organized Hamlet of Pelican Cove located in the R.M. of Leask on Iroquois Lake, I have a lot of information I would like to share.
From the time I was appointed to the Hamlet Board, numerous irregularities had been brought to my attention. In 2019, the R.M. unilaterally withdrew funds from the Hamlet account, leaving the Hamlet with less than the legislated 40% split. The R.M. refused to return the funds to the Hamlet account, leaving the Hamlet with no option but to seek legal council. The Hamlet Board made several requests to the R.M. to find a resolution and when this fell on deaf ears, the Hamlet proceeded with Section 77(1) of the Municipalities Act (Saskatchewan). The Hamlet provided the name of their delegate and requested the R.M. provide the same. The R.M. ignored all requests and instead, made motions refusing to pay Hamlet board approved requisitions and legal fees. In 2020, the R.M. unilaterally lowered Hamlet percentage splits from 55% to 40%. In the fall of 2020, the issue went before the courts. Under the Municipalities Act (Saskatchewan) Members of Council can be held personally and financially liable for these funds.
There was a change in R.M. Council with the November 2020 election. A meeting took place between the R.M. Council and the Organized Hamlet Board and, as a result, all funds taken unilaterally were returned to the Hamlet account and any legal fees incurred by the Hamlet have been paid by the R.M. We are presently in the process of finalizing agreements, budgets and written policies with the R.M.
In closing, I feel its important to understand:
- Hamlet’s have a right to legal representation, legal fees are a municipal expense and the R.M. does not have the authority to refuse to make payment on behalf of the Hamlet.
The R.M. does not have the authority to unilaterally withdraw funds and lower Hamlet percentages. ‘As may be agreed’ is outlined in the Municipal Act (Saskatchewan) and is what governs all parties.
- Although Hamlets are advised to work much like an R.M., other than at the annual AGM meeting, Hamlet boards are not required to invite ratepayers to monthly board meetings. Most meetings take place in private dwellings, which are not open to the public. We have established a Hamlet email address where we provide on-going communication to our ratepayers and conduct Hamlet related business.
- There needs to be a change in legislation to provide a time line for the Hamlet and the R.M. to appoint a delegate with regard to Section 77(1).
Please read the Hamlet Guide and Sections 68(1) to 78 of the Municipalities Act, Saskatchewan. Feel free to consult with Municipal Advisors, they are there to inform and educate us.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if you would like me to attend a meeting to provide further clarification.
Yvette Hamilton, Vice-Chair,
Organized Hamlet of Pelican Cove.