The Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton Council is elected for a four-year term to set policies and provide municipal governance.
Regular Council Meetings are held every 2nd Thursday of each month unless otherwise advertised. Meetings start at 8 a.m. at the Municipal Office, 329 River Road, Arborg, MB.
Members of the public are welcome to make presentation on any topic at any regular meeting of Council. These presentations are called 'delegations'. While there is not a limit on the number of delegations included on the agenda of a council meeting, the CAO has the authority to schedule delegations as deemed appropriate. All information submitted will be considered to be public information and therefore subject to full disclosure.
Registering as a Delegation: Delegations wishing to address Council on a matter are required to register with the CAO and provide details of the subject matter and the general nature of the request. Registration shall occur at least 5 days before the council meeting.
MEMBERS OF COUNCIL
Reeve Brian N. Johnson
Committee Appointments: Accessibility Working Group, Arborg Seniors Housing (Alternate), North-East Interlake Emergency Measures Board, Training Centre Steering Committee.
Ward 1 Councillor Shawn Magnusson
Committee Appointments: East Drainage Committee, Riverton Curling Club, Riverton Memorial Arena, Riverton-Bifrost Parks & Recreation.
Ward 2 Deputy Reeve Chad Johnson
Committee Appointments: East Drainage Committee, Arborg Seniors Housing Corporation, East Interlake Planning District, Interlake Veterinary Services, Riverton Harbour Authority Inc., Riverton Seniors Resource Council, Riverton-Bifrost Fire Committee.
Ward 3 Councillor Ken Stadnek
Committee Appointments: West Drainage Committee, East Interlake Watershed District Fisher-Mantagao River Subdistrict, East Interlake Watershed District Icelandic-Washow Bay Subdistrict, Eastern Interlake Planning District, Evergreen Regional Library, Interlake Tourism Association, Interlake Weed Control District.
Ward 4 Councillor David King
Committee Appointments: Public Works Chair, West Drainage Committee, Arborg-Bifrost Fire & Emergency Services, BAR Waste Authority Co-op Inc., Bifrost Airport Commission, Community Futures East Interlake.
Ward 5 Councillor Gordon Klym
Committee Appointments: West Drainage Committee, Arborg-Bifrost Fire & Emergency Services, Arborg-Bifrost Parks & Recreation Commission, BAR Waste Authority Co-op Inc., Interlake Weed Control District, Riverton-Bifrost Fire Committee.
Ward 6 Councillor Corey Palsson
Committee Appointments: East Drainage Committee, East Interlake Planning District (Alternate), Riverton Transportation & Heritage Center, Riverton-Bifrost Parks & Recreation Committee.
COUNCIL ROLE, RESPONSIBILITIES AND COMPENSATION
Council is comprised of a head of council, called the Reeve or Mayor, and a minimum of four and a maximum of 10 councillors. Municipalities determine their own council size, by by-law. The size of council usually reflects the geographic size of the municipality, its population, and the level of services and programs.
In addition to the elected members, Council may also appoint a youth member – a person who is less than 18 years of age or attending school full time – to sit on Council as a non-voting member. Youth members bring new perspectives to the Council table and generate interest among youth in local government.
ROLE OF COUNCIL
Council is elected to make decisions for the municipality about services, policies and programs. Council members have an equal voice at the council table – every council member has one vote. A majority vote is required to make a council decision. A council decision is the decision of the municipality.
Council is required by The Municipal Act to make decisions that are in the best interests of the municipality as a whole. Individual council members elected on a ward basis must consider the needs of the entire municipality and not only the needs of the ward they represent.
Council may delegate certain powers, duties or functions to the head of council, a council committee, the Chief Administrative Officer or another designated officer for the municipality. There is, however, no authority to delegate powers, duties or functions to an individual council member. This means that individual council members have no authority to make a decision on behalf of the municipality; if they do, they may be held financially or legally liable.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF COUNCIL
The Municipal Act establishes the following Council responsibilities:
• Developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality
Council’s primary role is to ensure services are provided to citizens and property owners. This involves establishing policies about what programs and services are to be delivered, the level of those services, and how those services are to be delivered.
Council is also responsible to ensure that these programs and services meet their objectives and deliver the desired outcomes.
Many municipalities develop and maintain a policy manual. A policy manual provides a sound basis for decision-making and can ensure that policies are consistently implemented by the municipality’s administration, and are clear to council, administration and the public.
• Ensuring that the powers, duties and functions of the municipality are appropriately carried out
Council is accountable to the public for the decisions it makes. Council is also responsible for ensuring that the municipality operates in an open and transparent manner.
• Carrying out the powers, duties and functions expressively given to Council under the Act or any other legislation
Council is responsible to ensure that the municipality acts within the legislation. Council is responsible to ensure that the municipality meets all requirements established in legislation, such as the requirement to hold public meetings on certain matters, maintain roads, develop an annual financial plan (budget) and pass a tax levy by-law, appoint an auditor, etc.
The legislation establishes minimum requirements however Council can go beyond these minimums, providing they act within their broad, legislative authority.
All Councils have a head of council, called either the Reeve or Mayor. The choice of title is a municipal preference, and makes no difference in terms of the role of the head of council. The Reeve/Mayor is often the main spokesperson for the municipality when expressing the municipality’s position to the public or the media, and when attending community events.
Responsibilities of the Reeve/Mayor (under The Municipal Act) include:
• providing leadership and direction to council
• presiding over all Council meetings and Committee meetings when in attendance, except where the municipality’s procedures by-law provides otherwise
• acting as a signing authority for the municipality
• calling a special council meeting
• responsible for all municipal decisions and actions under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Reeve/Mayor also has all the responsibilities of a council member, discussed below.
INDIVIDUAL COUNCIL MEMBERS
Individual council members, including the Reeve/Mayor, also have responsibilities under The Municipal Act, including:
• considering the well-being and interests of the municipality as a whole. All council members, even if elected by ward, have a responsibility to the whole of the municipality.
• Participating in developing and evaluating policies that direct planning, financing and municipal services.
• Participating in and voting at Council meetings, Committee meetings, and on other bodies to which appointed. Council members are expected to attend and be actively involved in the business of those meetings.
• Keeping municipal matters confidential until they are discussed at a meeting open to the public. The consequence for breaching confidentiality is disqualification from council.
Council has the authority to set its own compensation by by-law. It is advisable for council to develop sound policies for compensation and reimbursement of expenses.
A municipality’s compensation policy should be fair and equitable, given the time spent on municipal business, and local costs and conditions.
The Chief Administrative Officer is required to include a detailed account of every payment made to council members in the municipality’s annual financial statement, which is a public document.
Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton By-law 1-2019 establishes the indemnities to be paid to members of Council for 2019.
Municipal Legislative Framework
The Municipal Act of Manitoba provides a flexible, enabling framework to enable municipalities to govern efficiently and effectively in today`s environment. Municipalities have flexibility and autonomy to manage their own affairs and to make decisions that they think will best meet the needs of their communities.
Recognizing this, there are very few services that municipalities are required by legislation to deliver. Required services include waste management, maintenance of municipal roads, protective services such as a fire and for some municipalities (urban municipalities of 750 or more population) police services, and land use planning. Municipalities, however, can deliver a wide and varied range of other services that are not required by legislation, such as recreation and economic development, as long as these services are within their legislative authority. These services reflect municipalities own local priorities.
Municipalities are given powers under The Municipal Act that they use to deliver municipal services:
Government powers – municipalities have powers that are available only to governments. These are significant powers because they have a direct impact on citizens and property owners. These powers include the authority to tax property, to take an individual’s property for non-payment of taxes through the tax sale process, and to expropriate land for municipal purposes.
Government powers also include the authority to make laws, known as by-laws, in the municipality that regulate the behaviour of individuals or private property. Examples include land use planning and building by-laws, noise by-laws, animal control by-laws, unsightly property and derelict vehicle by-laws. Municipalities have authority to enforce their own by-laws.
Corporate powers – municipalities have powers similar to other individuals or businesses, which enable them to operate their municipalities. These powers include the authority to buy and sell land, to buy equipment, to enter into agreements for services or to tender work.
Under The Municipal Act, municipalities have considerable autonomy and independence within the broad parameters of the legislation. This autonomy and independence is balanced with requirements for transparency and public accountability recognizing that municipalities are accountable to their citizens first and foremost.
LEGISLATION GOVERNING MUNICIPALITIES
The Municipal Act – the most important Act for municipalities. The Act establishes the framework for municipalities, and sets out municipalities’ governance and corporate powers.
The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act – defines situations when an individual member of council’s personal interest may conflict with the broader municipal interest, and imposes consequences on council members when they put their personal interests first.
The Planning Act – establishes the legislation to guide the use and development of private land. The Act also establishes Planning Districts and their authorities. Provincial Land Use Policies, which guide local planning decisions, are established in a regulation under the Act.
The Municipal Assessment Act – establishes the framework for property assessment and taxation, as well as the authority of municipal Boards of Revision to consider property assessment appeals.
The Emergency Measures Act – gives municipalities responsibilities for emergency preparedness and authorities for states of emergencies.
The Public Utilities Act – establishes Public Utilities Board oversight over municipal utilities (water & sewer utilities), including the approval of rates.
The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act – governs access to information held by municipalities and other public bodies, as well as rules to protect the privacy of personal information.
The Ombudsman Act – gives the Ombudsman the authority to investigate complaints about the administration of municipal policies and programs.
The Environment Act - establishes requirements for environmental assessments and licensing, including municipal wastewater facilities, landfills, use of pesticides, livestock operations, etc.
The Water Rights Act – establishes the rules for the use of water, including requirements for drainage licenses.
The Conservation Districts Act – provides the framework for water conservation on a watershed basis and gives authority to Conservation District Boards.
The Regional Waste Management Act – provides the framework for regional delivery of municipal waste management facilities, and the authority of regional Boards.
The Highway Traffic Act – provides that municipalities are traffic authorities with powers to set traffic certain rules within the municipality, including parking, snow routes, weight restrictions on roads, etc.
The Public Schools Act – establishes Council’s responsibility to fix and impose a school division special levy that is apportioned to the municipality by the school division(s) and the education support levy requested by The Public Schools Finance Board.
This list is not exhaustive – other Acts may also apply to municipalities.
Acts are available electronically on the Government of Manitoba’s website at:
MUNICIPAL COUNCIL CONFLICT OF INTEREST
The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act sets a standard of good conduct for council members. The Act defines situations when an individual council member’s personal interest or the interest of their immediate family (spouse or dependent child) conflict with the broader municipal interest. It also imposes consequences on council members when they put their personal interests first.
The Act also requires all council members to annually file a Statement of Assets and Interests. The requirement to list your assets and interests in the Statement is a critical part of being accountable to the citizens of the municipality. (There is no requirement to disclose the value of the assets and interests.)
Only the Court of Queen’s Bench can determine if a council member has a conflict of interest. An elector or a council can apply to the court if they believe that a council member has violated The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act. The court will hear evidence and will make a decision. If the court decides that the member of council violated the Act, the member could be disqualified from council and would have to immediately resign.
Types of Conflict of Interest
Council members are in conflict if they:
• Participate in a matter before Council where they, or their spouse, or dependent children, have a direct or indirect pecuniary (financial) interest. Council members are required to disclose the interest, withdraw from the meeting without voting and not participate in the discussion.
• Use ‘insider’ information that they have acquired in the performance of their official duties. Members of council cannot use information that is not available to the public for personal gain or the gain of any other person (e.g. passing on information obtained through internal discussions).
• Receive compensation from any person, business organization for the services they provide as a council member, or receive compensation to influence another council member.
• Use their influence as a council member to influence the municipality to enter into a contract or transaction where they or their immediate family member have a direct or indirect pecuniary (financial) interest.
Conflict of Interest Questions & Answers
• What is a conflict of interest? A conflict of interest is when a person in public life is in a position where a personal interest may, or may appear to, conflict with their role as a municipal councillor. The Municipal Council Conflict of Interest Act generally defines a conflict of interest as a pecuniary interest.
• What is a pecuniary interest? A pecuniary interest is a financial interest that a member of council or their dependant may have. A pecuniary interest may be direct or indirect, and is defined in the Act.
• How does the disclosure procedure work? If the member of council has a pecuniary interest with respect to council related business, they must disclose the general nature of the interest and withdraw from the meeting without voting on or discussing the matter. Council members must refrain from attempts to influence any decision on the matter.
• Does disclosure apply to council meetings only? No. It applies also to committee or subcommittee meetings, or an agency, board or commission where the councillor serves as an elected official.
• Does this legislation cover councillor family members? Disclosure extends to the direct or indirect pecuniary interests of a spouse, common law spouse or a dependent child who resides with the council member. For example if a business deal involving the municipality and a dependant comes before council, that fact should be disclosed and the disclosure procedure followed.
• How is the disclosure recorded? The CAO or recording secretary must record the nature of the disclosure and the council members withdrawal from the meeting. A central record is required to be kept by the CAO to show compliance.
• Is the record available for public review? Yes. The record will reflect the council members statement regarding the disclosure, withdrawal from and time of return to the meeting.
• What is disclosed in the Statement of Assets & Interests? Are private financial details required to be provided? Real estate holdings in the municipality and personal financial interests that the council member, their spouse or dependent children have are required to be disclosed. Only the nature of the financial interest is required to be disclosed, not the financial details.
• Are certain things not required to be disclosed? Yes. Members of council are not required to disclose their primary residence, personal bank accounts, Canada Savings Bonds or retirement investment savings. Their income, spouse’s income or child’s income is not required to be disclosed. (The employer’s name however, must be recorded.)
• When must a Statement of Assets & Interests be filed? The statement must be filed annually by November 30th. It must be kept up to date and any changes noted within 30 days. The statement is kept on file by the CAO of the municipality. Council members have an obligation to accurately disclose their assets and interests; the CAO does not verify the accuracy of the statement.
• Do gifts have to be disclosed? Yes. Any gift valued at $250 or more must be declared. Gifts received continue to be part of the list of assets until the asset or interest is disposed of.
• Is the Statement of Assets and Interests a public document? Yes. Any person can examine the Statement upon request at the municipal office at any time during office hours. The statement cannot be photocopied or publically distributed.
CITIZEN ACCESS TO INFORMATION
Most municipal information is available to the public as a matter of course. Citizens can also request that the municipality provide access to municipal documents by filing a request under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
Under FIPPA, the municipality is required to provide any citizen access to documents, unless there is a clear reason for keeping them confidential or they contain personal information (e.g. contain information about an ongoing legal matter, personnel records, etc.)
Citizens have the right to complain to the Ombudsman if the municipality denies access to a municipal document. The Ombudsman, after an investigation, may recommend that the municipality provide the document. Municipalities are expected to comply with the Ombudsman’s recommendations.
Citizens have immediate access to certain documents under municipal legislation:
• Assessment rolls
• Annual financial plan
• Financial statements
• Reports of the municipal auditor
• Minutes of council and committee meetings, held in public
• By-laws and resolutions of council and resolutions of committees of council
• An Election Finance Statement filed by a registered candidate in an election
• A council member’s Statement of Assets and Interests
• A council member’s Record of Disclosure during a meeting
• A report of the Ombudsman received by council, where required
Other information that is available to citizens includes:
• Council member indemnity and expense claim forms
• Tender documents once awarded
• Development agreements
• Conditional use permits and variation orders.
• Any document that is presented at an open council meeting should be available to the public, as a general rule.
Council must hold a public hearing to obtain public input on matters that have a significant impact on the citizens and property owners in the municipality, under The Municipal Act. Council can hold a public hearing on any other matter it chooses, even where a public hearing is not required by legislation.
Requirements for public hearings recognize the important role that the public plays in the decision-making process. The public hearing enables Council to provide comprehensive information on a proposal to citizens and obtain their input on the proposal before making a final decision.
Examples of when a public hearing is required:
• Presentation of the annual financial plan of the municipality
• Revisions to the operating budget that increases transfers from surplus and reserves or tax revenue, or increases estimates in the capital budget
• Long-term borrowing by the municipality for capital projects, if not included in the annual financial plan of the municipality
• Proposal to close a municipal road
• Proposal for local improvements / special services
• Proposal to adopt or amend a development plan or zoning by-law
Council Role at Public Hearings
All council members are required by The Municipal Act to attend public hearings unless they are excused by council, are ill or have declared a conflict of interest in a matter before council.
Citizen Attendance at Public Hearings
Citizens are encouraged to attend and participate at public hearings; public input is important to the decision-making process.
The Chair of the public hearing has the right to limit the time taken by a person to ten (10) minutes, after which council may wish to ask questions of the person. All questions must be channelled through the Chair of the hearing.
The Chair of the public hearing may decline to hear further presentations, questions or objections where he is satisfied that the matter has been addressed at the public hearing.
The Chair of the public hearing may limit presentations to R.M. of Bifrost residents and electors only.
The Chair of the public hearing may require any person, who is in the opinion of the Chair, conducting himself in a disorderly or improper conduct, to leave the public hearing and if that person fails to do so, may cause that person to be removed.
If a public hearing is adjourned, the council shall provide a public notice of the date, time and place of the continuation of the hearing, unless information is announced at the adjournment of the hearing.