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Province gives blessing to Black Diamond-Turner Valley amalgamation

Two Alberta towns will become one in a rare amalgamation request that will go through on New Years.
WW-Amalgamation Mayors BWC 5716
Black Diamond Mayor Brendan Kelly (left) and Turner Valley Mayor Barry Crane pose for a photo near the Friendship Trail joining the towns on Feb. 19. The Town's amalgamation plans have received formal approval from the Province.

The amalgamation between the towns of Black Diamond and Turner Valley received final blessing from the Province on May 25.

The order in council paves the way for Diamond Valley’s first-ever election to be held in November of this year. The two towns will officially join as the Town of Diamond Valley on Jan. 1, 2023.

“It's fantastic news,” said Turner Valley Mayor Barry Crane. “(I am) super, super excited for the work ahead.”

Crane said he appreciated all the work the minister of municipal affairs and his team has done over the years to get to this point.

That sentiment was shared by Black Diamond Mayor Brendan Kelly, who thanked the previous councils, and past and current administrations, for the work they have done.

“I'm kind of at the finish line of this entire process. This has been ongoing for many years,” Kelly said.

“I think it's fair to say that both Barry and I, and administrations (and) councils, are excited,” he added.

Crane said there are lots of details for administrations and councils to hammer out, but in the long run, the merger is all about service delivery to the customers of Diamond Valley.  

“We strive to do the best that we can and deliver the best bang for your buck. And that's really what it's all about,” he said.

In an emailed statement, Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said, “I applaud the efforts and cooperation of both towns’ elected leadership in creating this new path forward, as local governments are in the best position to do what’s best for their local communities.”  

“The Government of Alberta is proud to support municipalities like Black Diamond and Turner Valley in finding better ways to deliver services for Albertans effectively and efficiently.”

Both town councils approved the move towards amalgamation in two separate votes, before and after last year's municipal election.

In February, Black Diamond council approved the move by a vote of 4-3, matching the result of an earlier vote in September. Turner Valley council’s support was unanimous both times.

The dissenting votes in Black Diamond were due to what was felt as a lack of public consultation, as well as concern of the costs associated with joining the two towns.

Black Diamond Coun. Daryl Lalonde, who voted not to support the application during the vote in February, said, "I do not disagree that the long-term benefits of amalgamation are possible, however the short-term will create a heavy financial burden that will either be sourced by taxes or cutting services.”

Coun. Ted Bain also voted against the application. He said he is not against the principle of amalgamation, but he was opposed to this application for two reasons: a plebiscite was not held and the current economic climate does not support the up-front costs of a merger.  

The February vote was held at the request of McIver in response to the towns' application submitted last year, to see if the newly elected Town councils were still in support of the proposal.

Back in September, when the outgoing councils approved the application to amalgamate, there was concern from some Black Diamond councillors that more information was needed along with additional public consultation.

Then-mayor of Black Diamond, Ruth Goodwin, thought that sufficient public consultation had taken place.  

Black Diamond held six public information and consultation sessions and had one survey on the issue during its process to gauge support for the move.