Elections 2013: County council candidate questionnaires

Ponoka County council candidates completed a Ponoka News questionnaire.

  • Wed Oct 9th, 2013 3:00pm
  • News

1.  Name: Bryce Liddle

2. Age: 41

3. Occupation: Farmer

4. Marital Status: Married to Bonnie Liddle

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I’m running for Ponoka County because I think we need a change, also believe we need some younger representation with the county.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

With community groups, we need to keep in touch with the leaders to know what is going on as well as how the county could help.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

I think we should develop the QE2 corridor in a way that access off the Highway works and that it is done in a tidy way. Don’t have stuff all over.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

I think the permit idea that the county put in for large hauls makes sense. We can then know where the problems may be and keep the roads in good shape as well as letting farmers get there work done.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

There needs to be a clear breakdown on where the money is going and what it is being spent on.

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1.  Name: Curtis Emes

2. Age: 50

3. Occupation: Sales

4. Marital Status: Married 25 years.

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I ran in the last election three years ago. After meeting many new people in the community and hearing their views, I decided I would like to run again. Three years ago I was approached to run by various concerned individuals in the community, I believe they saw something in me that they thought would be beneficial. I thank them for that insight and confidence in me. I had considered this role and I decided that change is often good, and it is the next generations’ time to step up and contribute. I believe anyone in our community would step up to contribute, as they care for this community as much as I! I understand most have a very busy life though, and I have the time to contribute, and I want to contribute!

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

By listening, learning, and by reasoning out the best solutions as a team. By setting a good example, and encourage organized teamwork.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

In order to go ahead with development and growth decisions have to be worked out with all parties. These decisions obviously must be made as a community.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

Roads are built to be traveled on, it is part of progress, and we are a large farming community that has been the core of Ponoka’s development. I am confident the county will continue to find the best solutions for all involved.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

Ponoka County council has moved ahead. County councils’ vote has sent a message that will get the ball rolling to work on a resolution. As councillor Paul McLauchlin stated, “At the end of the day there’s a due process for complaints and I think this definitely includes you taking your complaints back to Bethany and finding a resolution.” Opening lines of communication between town and county councils, the Rimoka board, Bethany Group and the residents for solutions for continual improvement is the direction this issue seems to be headed.

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1. Name: Doug Weir

2. Age: 63

3. Occupation: Farmer

4. Marital Status: Married to Lauraine for 37 years

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I think it’s important to have new ideas coming to the forefront in organizations, be it a board, a company or a municipality. Stagnation occurs when it’s “same old, same old.” I have skills and ideas that will benefit the community as a whole, as a Ponoka County councilor.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

Council should provide encouragement, an attitude of cooperation, and where possible, help with infrastructure costs to facilitate working together. We need to work together for the good of the whole community, as we use each other’s facilities and infrastructure. County residents work and play in our towns and visa versus; many county residents own property and businesses in our towns.

With regards to non-profit community organizations, municipalities should help fund projects that are for the betterment of the community; these projects need to be evaluated from an economic and social welfare point of view, amongst others. The costs should be included in the annual Budget planning, with a contingency fund for things that come up during the course of the year.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

Council’s responsibility should be to develop fair and equitable policies. These polices should be based on: a) consultation with the various stakeholders; b) a vision or plan that has been developed on information provided by provincial regulators, our CAO, developers and landowners. We have a Municipal Development Plan that has been adopted by council. We need to regularly review this plan, making sure it keeps pace with provincial regulations, and the changing needs of our residents.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

County policy regarding road use should be fair & equitable to all users; building & maintenance of roads within the county is an ongoing concern to all users, including oil companies, gravel haulers, rural businesses & farmers. Council and the road manager should identify high use roads, and have a long term plan regarding upgrading & maintenance. Our road system should be part of the MDP.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

This is an important issue, which I am not privy to all the information. I need correct historical background regarding any agreements & concerns. I believe that the Rimoka Board exists to make autonomous decisions that are best for that organization, employees and the residents of their facilities. The County rep to the Rimoka Board needs to keep county council informed of arising issues. As a governance board we must let them make the necessary decisions. County councilors should not be dictating to them to take a particular course of action.

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1.  Name: Gawney Hinkley

2. Age: Over 18

3. Occupation: Retired dairy farmer

4. Marital Status: Widower

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I am running because it’s in my blood. I have spent a good portion of my life serving the people in Division 2 (24 years) and I love doing it. When my health failed I was afraid I would have to step aside. Thankfully, it has recovered and I look forward to the next four years of maintaining the lowest taxes in the province while providing a good level of service.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

We have worked hard to strengthen the relationships with Ponoka and Rimbey in recent years. The county has significantly increased its annual operational funding support for recreation, library, fire, cemetery and other services in both communities. In addition, substantial funding has been provided for capital projects such as the Ponoka Ag Centre, the Splash Park and Gymnastics Club facility, Rimbey Ag building, raceway and swimming pool. Perhaps we need to do a better job of ensuring that the residents in both Town and County are aware of the support we do provide as I hear from some residents that the County does not pay its fair share.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

The County recently completed a QE 11 Highway Outline Plan that will be submitted to the public for their input this winter. Basically, it proposes that development be done in a progressive way starting at the major intersections.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

The County is in a unique situation. On one hand, QE 11 corridor is where people want to reside and it is also where some of the best farmland in the country is located. Somehow, we have to learn to co-exist and have mutual respect. Road use is a huge part of this. We request that farmers hauling multiple loads on local roads notify the County so we can keep them maintained before they create a safety problem for the travelling public. We have to continue upgrading and rebuilding roads as our financial means allow.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

As a County Councilor, my main concern is that our community provides the best living conditions possible for our seniors. This is only possible with the right management and staff support. Bethany Group came to Rimoka with an excellent track record in other municipalities and I expect nothing less here. Improvements in communication between Bethany, the Rimoka Board and municipal Councils is critical but more importantly confidence and trust must be restored to the residents.

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1.  Name: George Verheire

2. Age: 68

3. Occupation: Farmer

4. Marital Status: Married to wife, Brenda for 27 years.

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I have been in politics for a few years now. My experience lies with labour law and also with the Municipal Government Act, which the county is governed by. I have chaired many boards; local and provincial. I believe I have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer to the county and the ratepayers of Division 3.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

I bring a wealth of knowledge with regards to leadership, having been in politics as long as I have, so I would use this knowledge to help these community organizations strengthen their relationships and move forward.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants and needs of landowners?

Development along the QE2 corridor is already in the works. We have zoned land for industrial, but the county is not in the real estate business however, the county is open to and invites sound business ideas which are for the betterment of our county without jeopardizing agriculture land as much as possible.

8. How do you propose the County handle large farming operations that are damaging roads?

The same way we handle industry that are damaging the roads. To me there is no difference. We presently have moved forward with a new bylaw whereby heavy farm equipment requires permits and overloads will receive fines. This will be a constant struggle to manage as many of our roads were built in the 50’s and need to be maintained or rebuilt to meet future needs.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County Council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group:

Rimoka has been a contentious issue within the Ponoka County for years and there has always been problems such as staffing, empty residences, poor meals, poor staff morale and Rimoka Board has never been able to resolve these issues. I am in favour of the recommendation made recently by Ponoka County to give Bethany their 30-day notice and hire a competent manager to run our lodges. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of affordably providing a nice clean room, good food and good surroundings for our seniors. This is their home and it should be treated as such, with respect.

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1.  Name: Gordon Svenningsen

2. Age: 69

3. Occupation: Semi-retired farmer

4. Marital Status: Married to Delphine for 45 years.

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I have served on Ponoka County council for 18 years. I enjoy the challenge and responsibilities of local government. I look forward to work with all community organizations to make Ponoka and Rimbey communities where people are proud to live and work.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

All organizations are important in our community; therefore, we need to respect everyone’s opinion for the good of the whole community not just a specific organization.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

Keep bureaucracy at a minimum. The county has hired a planner to prepare and draft a development plan for the corridor. It is complete and will be made available for public input this winter before it is considered to be adopted. The intent is to respect the rights of all parties.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

Ponoka County has developed a policy in regard to road damage. This policy requires that farmers hauling multiple loads notify the county, so the County Public Works Crew is aware of silage and manure hauling. Soft spots will occur on some roads, which need to be repaired during the operation to prevent excessive damage later.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

Bethany Group has been hired to manage the day-to-day operation of Rimoka. Ponoka County expects first class service from our Ponoka County staff, therefore, we expect nothing less from the Bethany Group. I feel they need to improve communication with the staff and employ local expertise for maintenance of the buildings, grounds, and etc. I am committed to providing the best care to all seniors. This is their home and they need to be treated with care and respect.

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1. Name: Jerry Bonnett

2. Age: 60

3. Occupation: Shop Foreman/Purchaser at Calnash Trucking

4. Marital Status: Married, wife’s name is Pat

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

We need a change in county council and I think that we need someone who is able to deal with the agriculture people and the acreage people.

I helped run a successful farm for 35 years until BSE came along and now I assist in running Calnash Trucking, one of the top rig moving outfits in Alberta.

I’ve had all kinds of experience dealing with people of all aspects. Everything I do I try to deal with common sense. I think I would fit the bill.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

Having forward thinking people in place in the County and the towns of Ponoka and Rimbey would go a long ways. We also need equal representation among each group in governing the community organizations.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

I think development in the QE2 corridor initially limited to interchanges by developing centers. If Alberta keeps growing at this pace yes we should look at developing more exchanges but keeping agricultural type land a priority.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

I think the large agriculture operators should try to use discretion on the weights of the loads and the speeds and planning routes. By letting the county know when you’re hauling so they can get a grader out and watering the roads goes a long way in appeasing the neighbors and the county.

Some people argue it would cost more for lower speeds and smaller loads. They don’t want to have the same regulations as the oil patch, then it would be costly.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

I really don’t know enough about this situation to comment on it too much, maybe they need an outside person or group to look into the situation. Until we have some alternative set in place we better leave it the way it is.

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1.  Name: Lorrie Jess

2. Age: 53

3. Occupation: Bookstore Owner/Mom/Cook/Gardener/School Board Trustee/Volunteer

4. Marital Status: Widow

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I decided to put my name forward as a county councillor because I believe it is time for a change. I have been a county resident for most of my life, have raised three kids on the Family Farm and want to be involved in the decision making with the future direction of the county.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

I strongly believe that communication is the key in strengthening community relationships. Individuals with these organizations not only need to listen to each other but also “hear” what each other are saying in a dialogue about common goals!

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

I would work alongside landowners to encourage economic growth and understanding the benefits of having this growth in industry in our community. I believe development can be good, but along with the development there needs to be more thought put into the planning for good highway access. A prime example of this is Range Road #261 (aka Access Road), where Don Laing Trailers, LKQ, and Almita have set up shop. Traffic has increased and there are often vehicles of all sizes parked along the exit from Highway 53 onto this new paved stretch of road plugging traffic flow. There is not a turning lane coming off of Highway 53, creating a potential safety hazard for drivers.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

I see this as a tough problem with no easy solutions. Farmers need access to county roads with a multitude of farm equipment in order to farm! Council added amendments and a plethora of new rules to two of the bylaws pertaining to weight restrictions in trying to address this problem. I am just not sure how these bylaws are being monitored or enforced!

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

I would like to see representatives from council, Rimoka and Bethany sit down with the Residents of Rimoka and listen to their concerns and needs. The residents should feel safe, well taken care of, and be happy in their homes!

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1.  Name: Mark Matejka

2. Age: 49

3. Occupation: Self-employed, Agriculture

4. Marital Status: Married 24 years to Kathy, with 3 children

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

If you want to belong to a great community, you have to be willing to be part of the maintaining and development of the community. My parents have been strong volunteers and my wife Kathy and I have continued to raise our children in the same manner. Through the past 25 years I have been involved with many organizations that either had an impact on my business or on the sport and community groups my family was involved with. Now that our children are becoming more independent, I am ready to branch out to the greater community and utilize my experience to benefit the County of Ponoka and its residents. I have an excellent support system with my family, in the operations of our farming business, which gives me the flexibility to be available for my constituents and attend the county office responsibilities of a councilor. In addition, my background in business management, agriculture, community service, and communication make me an excellent fit to serve as a county councilor.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

Teamwork and communication are two of the vital key components of good relationships in any successful organization. We need to assure our community groups that we will listen to their plans, goals and objectives and work together to help them achieve success. My experience with the wide range of boards and committees would help to create policy that is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

The County of Ponoka is fortunate to have this potential opportunity for growth and development; however, it must be tendered with extensive planning and vision for the future. As with all landowners rezoning requests, there are many factors to be considered in allowing development, the county has an excellent Municipal Development Plan (6-08-MDP) and Land use Bylaw (7-08-LU) that will guide the future developments. The key to success would be to continue to ensure an open communication with the landowners that would be directly and indirectly affected.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

Agriculture has changed dramatically over the years, larger, heavier and faster moving equipment traveling greater distances throughout the county. We need to effectively assess, question, and determine a direction to follow in order to best maintain our roads. Responsibility to maintain roads needs to become both a county and a landowners concern. I believe with my agricultural background I can assist in helping to create and improve policy for our road usage.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

We need to strive to provide economical housing and lodging for our senior residents while ensuring that high care and living standards are continually maintained. I have had the opportunity to speak with several Rimoka residents, along with past and present board members. The relationship between Bethany, the Rimoka board and the county appears to be a contentious issue. Cooperation between all parties involved and communication that flows from residents’ concerns to the administration and to board members is a must. It is critical that we move forward in providing our residents with various living options that require the least amount of change through the process.

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Acclaimed division 5 candidate, Nancy Hartford chose to answer only some of the questions the document asked all Ponoka County candidates.

1. Name: Nancy Hartford

2. Age: 54

3. Occupation: Cattle rancher

4. Marital Status: Married

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I believe I have the strengths needed to work with my fellow councillors. Ponoka County has set many long-term goals that will benefit the ratepayers and we need to continue to see these through.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

As a rancher, agriculture is very important to me. We have some of the best land in Alberta and in this county and we need to remember this as we move ahead with the planning and development.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

As with all community organizations that the county deals with we must work with our partners with the Rimoka board to deal with issues as they develop.

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1.  Name: Paul McLauchlin

2. Age: 43

3. Occupation: Environmental Scientist (I own an Environmental Consulting Company)

4. Marital Status: Married to Melinda McLauchlin with 10 year old daughter Trelaina and 8 year old son Adam.

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

Service to my community. I have skills that I believe can assist to continue to make Ponoka County a great place to live. My professional experience in Business and the Environment allows me to work with council to make good land use decisions while ensuring that we continue to support the rights of individuals and the community.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

Communication and cooperation is the largest gap between local government and community organizations. In the current political and fiscal climate we are asked to do more with less and collaboration and strategic planning are the only way to achieve our goals. By reducing uncertainty in decision making and long term plans organizations can plan for their future. We are all on the same team to make this a better place to live and need to work together to do it.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

Further development of the area structure plan that highlights the future development potential to the landowners is critical. The corridor represents an economic pressure that will have the ultimate effect of changing the land use in the area. However, this needs to be reasonable and a phased approach. A transparent long term plan that balances the aforementioned with future development pressures is the only solution. That solution cannot be developed in isolation of stakeholders and after all our “food needs to come from home”.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

As one long term farming family said to me: “we are hauling 200+ loads of silage to run our operation. If you think I need a permit for every load and an inspection of my damage you are not respecting the rights of our farming heritage”.  In part I agree. There is a point of reasonableness in the care and attention of farming operation impact on our roads. The typical farming cycle narrows this to a finite time in the seasonal farming cycle and if we work collaboratively we can ensure that the road before and after a haul is maintained. The pressure that has caused the greatest concern from community members is the type of operation with year round hauling. This type of pressure likely requires a stronger management regime as it has the potential to affect other ratepayers. The solution to the latter issue is found in discretionary management and road use agreements. These patterns exceed the normal seasonal farming cycle and the overall road impacts go beyond respect for “farming heritage” and into the realm of industrial operations. With oil and gas development as an industrial model we have a more stringent regime and this year round intensive road use activity triggers the use of this model of course with discretion and reasonableness.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

This is not just a Ponoka County entity rather it is a true partnership between local governments. In order to move forward with the new board post-election Ponoka County must shore up support for the Foundation first as this is the governing body to address issues and concerns raised by staff and residents. Secondly working with the board Ponoka County and the other partners must revisit the relationship with Bethany and provide the feedback and support necessary to move forward.  The charter of Rimoka Foundation is based upon “finding a better way” while remaining “accountable to the clients, their families and the community for the trust and confidence placed upon them.” This Foundation needs the support of Ponoka County to continue “finding a better way”.

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1.  Name: Roland Grutterink

2. Age: 49

3. Occupation: Cow/calf farm operation

4. Marital Status: Married

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I felt I could better represent division 4.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

Have meetings to find common ground and search out common goals.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

Try to have development on land less suitable for farming.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

I don’t believe large farming is the culprit, but more commercial and custom operators. Also, it should be dealt with on a per incident basis.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

I need more information to make a proper statement.

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1.  Name: Tom Griffiths

2. Age: 58

3. Occupation: Cow/calf farmer, work program supervisor for Rising Sun Clubhouse

4. Marital Status: Happily married to Brenda with two daughters, two sons, five grandchildren.

5. Why are you running for Ponoka County?

I am running for council to give new representation and ideas for the county as one. I feel it is time to look outside the box more, and plan for future changes that may be coming.

6. How would you strengthen relationships of community organizations?

To strengthen our relationships with the various organizations, I think we need more communication and transparency.

7. How would you balance development along the QE2 corridor and the wants/needs of landowners?

Having read the proposed policies for development along the QE2 corridor, I think it covers everything that needs to be addressed and would be suitable for all those affected at this time.

8. How do you propose the county handles large farming operations that are damaging roads?

We cannot single out any one business or operation and blame them for damaging roads. I think it is time council stepped up and started rebuilding roads to handle the traffic the use our roads.

9. How do you wish Ponoka County council to move ahead with Rimoka and Bethany Group?

I am not well informed on the Rimoka and Bethany Group just yet, so I will refrain from commenting on this subject at this time.