UPDATED for clarity: CAO Albert Flootman was not served with the lawsuit, Nick Kolhman is a Ponoka County resident, and
Members of town council and administration appeared at the Court of Queen’s Bench in Wetaskiwin on Feb. 11 after being served with a lawsuit from two local residents.
The case was not able to proceed, however.
“It was, for lack of a better term, a bit of a waste,” said Coun. Kevin Ferguson.
Chief Administration Officer (CAO) Albert Flootman told council the matter has now been put over to special chambers, scheduled for Sept. 17, 2020 at 2 p.m.
On Jan. 21, during a committee of the whole meeting, Nick Kohlman came and served all the council members that were present with the lawsuit, according to information given by Ferguson during his report to council on Feb. 11.
The lawsuit includes the name of Ponoka resident Warren Hart, and is backed by Kolhman, a Ponoka County resident.
Those served included Coun. Ted Dillon, Mayor Rick Bonnett and former councillor Tim Falkiner.
When the town contingent arrived at court, Kohlman was present but Hart was not. Kohlman tried to represent Hart, but was told by the court he could not, as he is not a lawyer.
When asked, Kohlman stated Hart was out of the country, and later elaborated that Hart was currently in the United States.
Hart is well-known to council as he has been a frequent speaker during the public forum portion of town council meetings.
“I was in court today, and I think Coun. Ferguson said enough on that, other than the fact that it was wasted time for municipal officials and municipal staff,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett.
“Lawyers seem to be getting a little bit carried away and I would encourage people to have serious claims if they want to come and tackle it on,” said Bonnett, adding the town’s lawyer says the wasted time could have been used for a more important case, such as a custody dispute.
“There’s a significant amount of content in there and our lawyer does want to go through some stuff before it gets there so he did ask for a later date.”
Town communications manager Sandra Smith advised that as the matter is now before the court, that she is unable to provide any additional comment.
The lawsuit is regarding alleged unauthorized expenditures under the town’s borrowing bylaw for the capital lease of the Ponoka Civic Centre, and questions about the building, Kohlman told Ponoka News on Feb. 14.
A similar suit was brought before the courts in 2018 by Greg Nelson, who was advised by Kohlman.
Note: Court documents are a matter of public record and Ponoka News will be following up on this story.