Ponoka mayor gets testy with resident during council meeting

Resident Warren Hart cautioned with removal after going long over time speaking to council

The kick-off to a Ponoka town council meeting is quickly becoming a one-man show and it seems to be wearing thin with at least one member of council.

Resident Warren Hart has been a regular participant of the public forum portion at regular council meetings for the past several months. However, at the July 10 meeting, he drew the ire of Mayor Rick Bonnett after being given a ton of leeway in his presentation.

Hart spoke for nearly four minutes at this last meeting and focused his time on the subjects he has spoken about during previous meetings — only after being advised by Mayor Rick Bonnett that his opinions on speed limits is well known.

“I have many other questions, to this though, one of the biggest concerns in the background talks about the speed and traffic noise. My biggest concern is the lack of enforcement. Is that being addressed as well?” Hart stated.

He continued by questioning why and how much of his tax dollars went to the Ponoka Stampede, why there was such a hurry to sell the Kinsmen Community Centre with no public input at a bargain price and how much the Ponoka Community Golf Club taxes were cut.

“If Mr. (Jim) Hamilton wanted it so bad, why not lease it to him and it actually makes money for the town and we still have the asset. This thing too about the Kinsmen losing money goes to one of my arguments about the Stampede Association being in competition with service clubs,” Hart stated.

He then began talking about why tax dollars are still being put into the airport, in spite of the opinions of those that use the airport being different from the facts.

At this point, Bonnett cut him off and thanked him, noting Hart had already surpassed three and a half minutes. Hart then asked when will his questions be answered with Bonnett stating he could ask them of administration later or wait until the next meeting as staff were taking down all of the concerns in order to report back to council on them.

That prompted a rather terse reply of, “Thanks for nothing,” followed quickly by Bonnett response, “If you are going to continue with that, you might be just headed for the door if you are going to have that kind of attitude, Mr. Hart. So please, refrain.”

Hart interrupted with, “That is my opinion and am I not allowed to express my opinion?”

At that, Bonnett remind him that he is in council chambers that deserves the respect associated then once again thanking him for his opinion.

Public forum rules

The public forum was instituted at council meetings in 2014 and was intended to provide citizens with a brief opportunity to express concerns, bring up an issue or a question. That information would then be taken by administration and reported on to council at a future meeting.

Any member of the public wishing to speak is supposed to adhere to a limit of two minutes, with the public forum taking no more than 10 minutes. Another restriction is that an individual or group are not supposed to be allowed to speak on the same subject or concern more than once every six months. Although, this can be over-ridden by the Mayor or CAO if new information is being brought forward.

Additionally, an individual can request to be placed on a future agenda if they feel there is not enough time to adequately make their presentation during the public forum time frame allowed.

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