Town councillors had a challenge with the wording in a budget amendment during a regular meeting April 23.
The issue was over a 50 Avenue project between 60 Street and 63 Street. Completing the project will cost $1,073,518 with $905,053 on local improvement, said CAO Brad Watson. “The property owners have indicated their desire to move forward.”
Mayor Larry Henkelman was concerned whether contractors knew that requests under the Freedom of Information and Privacy of Protection Act (FOIPP) meant the town could not withhold contract details from the public. “So that we aren’t further FOIPPed by individuals or groups that end up costing the Town of Ponoka taxpayers thousands of dollars in money every year.”
He feels it is important contractors understand the town must be allowed to present the information if requested. Henkelman took issue with county resident Nick Kohlman over issues on 38 Street. Kohlman has requested information from the town regarding projects on the street.
“Mister Kohlman, it’s not a joke so if you want to carry on a smile you can carry it outside chambers,” ordered Henkelman.
Kohlman, who was in attendance responded. “If I want to smile in here I can smile.”
Henkelman then stated Kohlman was out of order.
Watson said the clause is stated clearly in all tenders from the Town of Ponoka.
Moving in early
The contractor — Cat Brothers — has expressed a desire to move in May 1 but property owners could still petition against the project as long as they gave notice by May 5, Watson added. “They won’t be digging in the ground.”
Coun. John Jacobs had some concern over who would have to pay for moving costs should the owners decide not to go forward. “You have to have an escape clause because the way it’s written right now it’s not his (the contractor) problem if they vote it down.”
He feels the best option is to amend the wording to say work cannot start until May 5.
“If there was any hesitation with the property owners, we wouldn’t be doing this,” said Watson.
The contract was amended to state the move-in costs would fall on the contractor should residents vote against the project.
A local improvement tax will be collected for 10 years with a total levy of $101,498 on the property owners.
Dealing with 38 Street issues
Despite a police investigation and legal investigation into issues on 38 Street, councillors have decided to host a public meeting.
“To achieve another final resolution of the matter,” said Watson.
The date is set for May 21 at 7 p.m. in council chambers and is open to everyone. The engineer of the project has been notified as well. Watson hopes there may come a positive outcome out of the meeting.
A FOIPP request is outstanding for November as well.
“So we’re moving ahead with this above a case that might be in front of the courts?” asked Henkelman.
Bonnett suggested the issue has been dragging for some time and this meeting might bring some closure.
“And by November when FFOIP makes its decision there might not be any of us sitting here on this council and you’re going to leave it with another council to deal with,” Bonnett added, referring to the October election.
He feels a resolution is needed. “You keep saying there’s nothing to hide,” added Bonnett.
Watson suggested ground rules for the meeting to ensure some structure.
Requesting a review of town departments Bonnett put in a notice of motion for the next council meeting to evaluate the town departments. He is unsure how that will be organized but wants to see council discuss the idea. “Whatever council decides.”
“I think as an organization of many years you need to revitalize yourself,” said Bonnett in an interview.
Seeking new arena concessionaire
Concession manager Jim Frender no longer manages the arena concession at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex, Wes Amendt, director of community services, told councillors. “He was in arrears and we were very generous in expecting payment.”
Amendt has been waiting since September for a payment from Frender.
“My understanding is we’re not the only ones who he owes money to. Some of his suppliers and other people that he was getting product from are also on the hook for quite a substantial amount of money I understand,” said Amendt.
Two town workers spent three days at the concession, conducting cleanup as well. “To get it back to where it would actually pass health inspection.”
He has sent a letter to Frender informing him the town would be seeking collection of the money owed.
“Live and learn but we’ll pursue this individual as best we can,” added Amendt.