Ponoka approves 16-hour bylaw officer contract position

Ponoka council voted in favour of the position with a 90-day trial period

Ponoka will see a new bylaw officer on a 16-hour per week contract basis.

The request to appoint a new bylaw officer, Victor Tam, was approved by council April 10 during the regular meeting, however, the decision didn’t come unanimously.

Councillors questioned administration’s advertisement process.

“Was there no local people?” asked Mayor Rick Bonnett.

His hope was to have more local representation as those individuals would know more about the community, but Wes Amendt, director of community services, said there were no local applicants.

The town didn’t advertise the position, said Amendt as it’s a contract position, however, he added that Tam used to live in Ponoka.

“He’s familiar with our community,” said Amendt.

Flootman added that during the application process he received a proposal from a firm in Edmonton but also spoke with several individuals as well as a person who used to live here.

“Could we see the contract as council?” asked Coun. Carla Prediger, who was in attendance by phone.

That request appears to fall more in line with an operational request; Flootman noted the decision falls within the town’s procurement policy and council has no say in it.

When asked about when and how the new officer will attend to bylaw needs, Amendt said the peace officer reports to him directly and they would set a floating schedule.

Coun. Kevin Ferguson voiced concerns that other councillors appeared to have, which related to no ad going out to the community to give local candidates an opportunity.

To combat that worry, Bonnett suggested council approve Tam under a 90-day trial basis. Council voted in favour, with councillors Prediger and Teri Underhill voting against the request.

The contract position has a 30 day cancellation.

Tam is a Red Deer resident who is a Community Peace Officer (CPO) for the Town of Penhold.

In the town’s preamble it states that Tam does shift work for Penhold, which would allow him to work part time for Ponoka.

“He maintains a philosophy of education and compliance to the enforcement of bylaws with the issuing of tickets or fines as a last resort for repeat offenders, or to those who do not comply within a reasonable period,” states the preamble.

He’ll also work with town administration on a more efficient bylaw complaint process.

Tam will be operating solely as a bylaw officer and not in the capacity of a CPO as the town has yet to be approved for CPO operations by the Solicitor General.

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