Ponoka resident apologizes to town for accusation

Town provides explanation of documents

Ponoka resident Edwin Geuder appeared during the public forum at the town’s regular council meeting Sept. 10 to offer an apology for a question he’d asked earlier this year about alleged forged documents.

“Today, I do something unprecedented in this town. I take public responsibility and accountability for my verbal question. Therefore, I Edwin Geuder, a Canadian citizen, and a citizen of this Town of Ponoka, sincerely apologize that I came before council, in person, on March 12, asking before council, verbally, the following question, ‘Who forged these documents?’ Thank you.”

Geuder had asked to be allowed to bring a delegation before council, but the town required a public apology from Geuder for the question, as they felt it was accusatory and defamatory.

In March 2019, Geuder obtained copies of the town’s occupancy certificate for the Ponoka Civic Centre through a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP) request.

He received two documents, which he stated had the same date and same signature, with other information that didn’t match, which he called, “very forged” on Sept. 10 in the preamble to his apology.

He added, “It appeared something was not right.”

Geuder appeared on March 12, 2019 before council, and during public forum, held up the two documents and asked the question, “Who forged these documents?”

The town’s CAO Albert Flootman responded with a letter to Geuder dated March 22, asking for a public apology from him to the town.

The letter stated, “In addition to your slanderous remarks, you offered no credible evidence substantiating your allegations, and you appear to have misinterpreted the building code to suit your own purposes.

“A public apology to town council and administration is warranted.”

“At the March 12, Council meeting, rather than simply asking for an explanation of why there were two documents issued, Mr. Geuder instead chose to accuse the Town of forgery which is why an apology was requested,” said Sandra Smith, communications manager for the town in a statement on Sept. 23.

Smith provided an explanation from the town about the two documents, adding a similar explanation had been provided to Geuder.

The two documents are Certificates of Occupancy which are issued when work required under a building permit is largely completed and a building is deemed safe to occupy for normal purposes.

“There is nothing unusual about two building permits being issued for the Ponoka Civic Building,” said Smith.

One Certificate was issued to Eagle Builders on behalf of Thackeray Enterprises (the building owner) for construction of the base building.

The second Certificate was issued to Eagle Builders on behalf of the Town of Ponoka for the tenant improvements to the building because Eagle Builders was the contractor that completed the tenant improvements for the town.

The two Certificates bore the same date and names because Eagle was the contractor responsible for completing the work under both building permits.

As such, Eagle applied for both Certificates of Occupancy at the same time because the contractor completed the tenant improvement work concurrently to completing work on the base building.

“As a result, it’s not unusual that the inspections of the work done under both building permits would have been done at the same time (on the base building and the tenant improvements), thus resulting in both Certificates of Occupancy being dated and issued at the same time and bearing the same names.”

Smith says it’s also not unusual for multiple building permits and consequently multiple Certificates of Occupancy to be issued for one building.

Anytime renovations are done to a building, a building permit has to be issued, followed by a Certificate of Occupancy once the work is done.

Depending on what renovations may occur in the future, there could conceivably be several more building permits and Certificates of Occupancy issued for the Ponoka Civic Building.

At least three more building permits and Certificates of Occupancy are expected: one for the finishing of the café lease space in the main foyer of the Ponoka Civic Building which is currently unoccupied, and two for finishing each of the office lease spaces on the third floor which are currently vacant.

Regarding tenant improvements, under commercial leases, it is standard practice that tenants are responsible for finishing lease space to meet their own needs.

After the apology, Mayor Rick Bonnett responded that council would deliberate. Geuder was allowed to come before town council during its regular meeting Sept. 23 to address other issues and concerns.

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