Suggestions that Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett is doing work on the new town hall are being denied.
The allegations come from Ponoka resident Edwin Geuder, who has sent letters to Municipal Affairs and Lacombe-Ponoka MLA Ron Orr, plus the Town of Ponoka, seeking answers to his concerns.
Bonnett runs Ponoka Irrigation and Aspart-X Battle River and has done some work for Eagle Builders before as a sub-contractor. Geuder alleges that the mayor also did work for Eagle Builders on the current building project.
Geuder does not feel the mayor should have voted on the deal with developer Landrex, which hired Eagle Builders to construct the new town hall, Campus Alberta Central Learning Centre, and new library space.
Geuder also alleges, “Rick Bonnett did not physically do any job at the learning centre himself, he sub-traded it out to companies from surrounding areas.”
Bonnett responded by saying, “I do work for Eagle Builders. That’s nothing secret.” He said he also does the irrigation work and some yard maintenance for some of the Eagle Builders owners.
Geuder states that CAO Albert Flootman knew this information, and should have advised Bonnett not to vote on the learning centre agreement with Landrex.
Geuder further alleges that in a meeting on April 24 with Flootman and Sandra Smith, communications manager for the Town of Ponoka, that he was told that Bonnett had received the flooring job orders for the building.
Smith told the Ponoka News that neither she nor Flootman made that statement. She added she is, “Unsure where the misunderstanding comes from.”
Bonnett confirmed that he has done work for Eagle Builders principles, but he has refused to do anything related to the town hall building.
“There’s no Aspart-X coatings in the building anywhere,” said Bonnett, adding that his competitor in Red Deer also did not do the work.
Eagle Builders was contacted requesting information on the name of the company doing the flooring. They advised that Bonnett is not involved and that the company, National Concrete Refinishers, was hired to do the work.
“Irrigation on the property, I have no contact with them at all,” added Bonnett, when asked about his irrigation work.
He did say that his nephew works for Country Gardens and Greenhouse, which is doing the landscaping work on the property.
“I do work for Eagle Builders on some other projects. I’ve just been doing two other projects for Eagle Builders in Red Deer,” he said.
Bonnett added that he has also done projects for the Town of Ponoka but operations makes the decisions on those items. If a project needed council approval, Bonnett says he would recuse himself from voting if his company was bidding.
Geuder feels the mayor should have recused himself from voting on the new town hall project altogether.
“… it is shown council including (the) mayor voted in favour,” states Geuder in an email.
The Municipal Government Act states that a councillor has pecuniary interest in two areas: the matter could affect the councillor or an employee of the councillor, or that the councillor knows that the matter could affect the councillor’s family. Family is considered to be a spouse or children.
Bonnett feels he is not in a conflict of interest with regard to the building development as he has stepped away from doing any contract work.
Both Municipal Affairs and Orr have responded to Geuder stating that they have received his letters. The ministry does state that elected governments are accountable to the citizens who elect them but does not delve into the matter directly.
“Contravention of these requirements is a basis for disqualification,” states the letter from Municipal Affairs to Geuder. “Under these circumstances, if a councillor does not resign immediately, council, or an elector, may apply to the Court of Queen’s Bench for an order declaring the person to be disqualified from council.”
The letter also adds that municipalities are required to follow procurement and tendering requirements in Alberta.
Ponoka News editor Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye is the board chairperson for the Ponoka Jubilee Library.