I do wish that more people could come to Rocky View County council meetings on Tuesdays to see the antics that occur so regularly, but I do understand that most people have other commitments.
The Sept. 12 council meeting was full of such antics. The most offensive was the abuse of process used to deal with Coun. Eric Lowther’s failure to follow election sign rules.
On the weekend of Sept. 9, Lowther put up election signs in Division 8. Several residents reported these violations to Rocky View’s bylaw authorities. The election sign bylaw and the material provided to candidates clearly state that election signs cannot be put up more than 30 days before an election – being Sept. 15 this year.
Rather than just apologizing and complying with the bylaw by having his signs taken down, Lowther claimed that his signs were legal under the Land Use Bylaw so the election sign bylaw restrictions didn’t apply. What kind of person does this?
Council voted to hold a behind-closed-doors meeting over its lunch hour to deal with the issue – arguing that legal advice on which bylaw took precedence was somehow a topic worthy of protection under the Freedom of Information and Privacy Act. I’m quite sure the real reason was that Lowther did not want to defend his abuse of the rules in public.
Had any other candidate violated the election signs bylaw as Lowther had done, he or she would have been left to the bylaw officials, who would have told them to remove their signs and perhaps fined them $100 per sign under the bylaw. But, it appears that because Lowther is a sitting councillor in the pro-development majority, he got special treatment.
If Coun. Lowther had any respect for the electoral process, he would have obeyed the election sign bylaw in the first place. Or, if he had made an honest mistake he would have immediately removed the illegal signs.
Instead, he turned it into a circus. One might forgive a misunderstanding from a first-time candidate, but certainly not from a seasoned candidate like Lowther.