Legal retains residency requirement for its CAO

By Staff

Legal – Town Council unanimously passed an updated Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) bylaw Tuesday night, a document that replaces a 1998 bylaw that has been used by the community for the 13 years.

Under the previous bylaw Legal imposed a requirement that its CAO live in the Town of Legal. That requirement is retained in the new bylaw, although there was some brief discussion among council on whether or not to keep it.

Legal Mayor Albert St. Jean said of all the data in the bylaw, it was the only thing that stuck out for him. Although generally in favour of his CAO living in the community, St. Jean questioned if the requirement may be a stumbling block down the road in that it could cause difficulties in attracting a CAO to the community.

St. Jean used the example of acting CAO Robert Proulx, suggesting if Proulx were to build an acreage three miles outside of Legal he would not be permitted to hold the position.

“Where do you draw the line of three miles out of town and the other side of Morinville,” asked Councillor Lisa Magara. “I like that they have to be here. They have a better sense of community.”

Councillor Trina Jones said in some communities where the CAO lives elsewhere there can be an impression among residents that a CAO does not want to live in the town they are running.

Councillors agreed to leave the residency requirement in the bylaw and gave it all three readings. Councillors Phil Hughes and Ken Baril were not present at the June 20 meeting.

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  1. Nothing wrong with offering an incentive to living in town but you should be looking for the best talent.

    There are lots of people, who do not want to live where they work, if you do, you never get a break from your job. It’s 24-7. The best choice might have children that are comfortable in their school, a spouse who has a good job elsewhere, etc.

    The CAO should be required to be seen and involved in town activities. The right CAO would want to do these things without being asked to do so.

  2. I can see two big reasons to support that a CAO should live in the town they serve. First and foremost, they are very involved in the making of decisions that affect the community. A very good way to ensure that the impacts of these decisions are well considered is if the person making those decisions is affected by them. It’s all too simple for an otherwise unaffected person to lean towards simple solutions to problems that may not be the best ones.

    Especially in small towns, pride in one’s community is especially important. It’s difficult for a CAO to project this if they don’t themselves live in the community they are promoting – it sends quite the wrong message, and a CAO is a very public and visible face of the community.

    Most jurisdictions have residency requirements (as they should) for members of their Town or City Council. The CAO may not be an elected official, but as they are also heavily involved in the decision making process for communities (through the advice and support they give councilmembers), their residency should be justified by the same factors as councilmembers are.

  3. There are arguments for and against this issue – however the CAO’s job is to ensure the Town is run as per the policies developed by the Mayor & Council . . . a good CAO would be able to implement this regardless of where they live.

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