A pair of tied votes combined with a procedural error nearly left Ponoka without any bylaw enforcement.
The situation was eventually resolved during the Sept. 11 council meeting, though the future of the current contracted bylaw officer remains in question.
Initially, with Mayor Rick Bonnett running late and Coun. Sandra Lyon absent, debate on the recommendation that Victor Tam be offered a one-year contract to continue working on municipal bylaw enforcement didn’t go well for town administration.
Director of community services Wes Amendt delivered his report, which included statistics for July and August with one municipal ticket issued and 22 other unsightly premises; some were closed while others are being worked on with landowners.
“In some cases, the people are tenants so we are dealing with the landlords,” Amendt explained when asked what has happened to the other 22 incidents.
“At council’s request, the primary focus was on education and for that one ticket issued, the property dealt with the issue the same day.”
However, current deputy mayor Coun. Teri Underhill along with Coun. Carla Prediger and Coun. Clayton Nelson each shared concerns about the lack of substantive data that would allow them to evaluate how the work has been done.
“We are not sure if there was any (feedback), positive or negative. With the steps (council) has in place, we want to know we are getting the best bang for our buck. This report does not give us enough,” Underhill stated.
Nelson asked why there was no formal performance review done prior to the contract extension recommendation and Amendt noted one is not typically done when it comes to contractors working for the town. However, he did state a review of the work had been done internally.
Meanwhile, Prediger expressed her view that there was a definite need for council to see some form of evaluation.
“It’s important for us to have an evaluative component. Our CPO (community peace officer) project was not too favourable and I’ve heard mixed reviews of what we are doing,” she said.
“On the good side, there may be a need for more money be put into enforcement, but we need to be able to understand that, understand the pros and cons and challenges facing him. Seeing numbers is one thing, but evaluative outcomes are important. Taking calls and complaints is a big difference than listening and addressing, and I’m not seeing that last part.”
Some brief discussion followed Coun. Kevin Ferguson making the motion for a one-year contract, with him and Underhill stating it won’t hurt the town to pass the extension and it’s up to administration to rectify the lack of evaluative information.
It’s at this point where the issue became complicated, as Prediger asked for the request to be tabled and it passed.
However, Underhill mistakenly allowed Prediger to bring up motion to give Tam a month extension, which passed.
About 20 minutes later, after Bonnett had arrived and taken the chair of the meeting, CAO Albert Flootman pointed out the procedural error and that Prediger’s motion was null and void. A vote passed to bring the issue back to the floor for discussion.
Prediger retried her motion, only to have it be defeated on a 3-3 vote. Underhill then moved the original one year recommended extension, which also resulted in a 3-3 defeat. It took a compromise suggestion by Bonnett of a three month deal, moved by Underhill to include a six week time frame for administration to provide the evaluation paperwork, to get everyone around the room to get a motion passed.