The borrowing bylaw intended to pay for the North Bridge and road realignment project was passed by nearly unanimous consent by the town council last week.
The first challenge to the bylaw, a petition against the borrowing, had to be considered before council could vote on it Tuesday, Dec. 8 during the regular meeting.
A petition was filed to the town on Nov. 25 and reviewed by interim CAO Doug Wright, who stated in the council package that it did not meet the sufficient criteria to be acceptable. The petition had 718 signatures, of which 677 had to be valid.
“During the review of the filed petition, names were excluded for invalid or wrong addresses, ineligible names, printed names not matching signature or no witness signature,” states the CAO’s report to council.
The report further states that other names were questionable but “deemed valid in favour of the petition.”
Wright clarified in an email the requirements for the petition to be considered as valid. Section 223 of the Municipal Government Act states the minimum number of signatures needed is “by electors of the municipality equal in number to at least 10 per cent of the population.”
Of the 718 signatures, 45 were excluded. Wright said the full details were provided to the named representative of the petition and it was up to them to fully disclose the details.
As for the borrowing bylaw, the vote passed 6-1 with Coun. Tim Falkiner voting against second and third reading.
The passing of the bylaw will enable the town to debenture $5 million, of the $5.45 million project, over the next 40 years at an estimated interest rate of 3.7 per cent at $240,826 per year. Another $100,000 will come out of reserves and $343,000 from grants.
Council asked to approve updated traffic bylaw
A proposed traffic bylaw presented to council is expected to clarify rules and regulations within the Town of Ponoka.
Council was presented with the bylaw that made it to second reading, which will reduce redundancies and conflicts within the town’s bylaws.
The proposed bylaw sets guidelines for parking, truck routes, parking of heavy vehicles and overnight parking, dangerous goods as well as snow, ice, dirt and other material left on a sidewalk.
One amendment was made to the removal of snow from a sidewalk as Coun. Marc Yaworski raised concerns about pushing snow off the sidewalk into the street in the downtown area. His concern was that downtown businesses do not have a place to put the snow.
The bylaw also sets the authority of municipal officials and peace officers, the latter position the town has set in its 2016 budget.
One concern from Coun. Carla Prediger was over communication with residents. She suggests the town should inform the public of the change prior to it being approved. Wright replied that once council approves the bylaw is when the communication begins.
The proposed bylaw is set to return to council’s next meeting.
Police advisory committee bylaw passes second reading
Council approved second reading of the police advisory committee, which will create a committee that communicates closely with the Ponoka RCMP.
The committee will act as a liaison between council, Ponoka RCMP, the CAO and Ponoka residents. As with the traffic bylaw, the final decision is expected to go to the next council meeting.