Town’s not listening so Hinkley quits airport

  • Mar. 23, 2011 2:00 p.m.

By CHARLES TWEED

The words were swift and decisive — not unlike the events that transpired at the Ponoka Industrial Airport leading up to them.

“I plan on stepping down as the member of the airport commission,” declared Ponoka County Coun. Gawney Hinkley.

The resignation comes on the heels of a mile of spruce trees being cut down at the airport. Hinkley strongly opposed the removal of the trees and didn’t feel his voice was heard during the process leading up to Ponoka Town Council’s decision.

“We (Ponoka County) have never been heard as part of that commission — they don’t pay any attention to anybody except the administration and the Town of Ponoka, so why sit there? I am going to make a motion that we withdraw all of our support from the Ponoka airport,” said Hinkley.

The council wasn’t sure if Hinkley was referring to their membership on the Airport Commission Board (ACB) or if he was referring to all support, be it monetary or representation. The county currently donates the taxes from hangers on the property — approximately $4,000 — back to the airport.

It was decided by council that the taxes would be collected and kept by the county and they would withdraw representation on the ACB.

“I don’t think we do any good sitting there. We’re there and it’s in the county but it’s under the control of the town so what’s the point of being there,” said Reeve Gordon Svenningsen

Coun. Keith Beebe wondered if there would be any repercussions from the withdrawal.

“So what, it’s going to be on me if there is,” said Hinkley.

“From the perspective of the county, if we’re involved with a function or activity where our influence is diluted by the management decisions being made, should we really be a part of a board where we are a warm body?” said Coun. Paul McLauchlin. “It doesn’t do our ratepayers any good.”

“When half the members go to town council, with 30 other members and they can’t get on the agenda for two weeks and aren’t allowed to speak and answer any questions then it’s time to get the hell off of there,” said Hinkley.

Hinkley’s next motion was to take care of the county’s interests in the Bluffton landfill.

“I want it put on record that we must take care of the county taxpayer and make sure that the Bluffton landfill lasts for a lot longer. So we are going to have to eliminate the tonnage that is coming into the landfill from the Town of Ponoka,” said Hinkley. “Let the Town of Ponoka find another place for their garbage all together.”

As it stands the current tonnage of garbage at the Bluffton landfill is close to forcing the site to be classified differently. The new classification would force the site to cover the garbage it receives daily with soil thus cutting the life expectancy in half.

“It’s licensed as it is and the local people accepted it in the neighborhood under the existing conditions and I think we have to live by them. We have an obligation to those people and we’ve reached its capacity and I think we should provide notice to the town,” said CAO Charlie Cutforth.

Council took into consideration the town had already done its 2011 budget and thought they should give Ponoka a reasonable length of time to find a new location.

Hinkley brought forward a motion stating the county would no longer accept the town of Ponoka’s garbage effective Jan. 1, 2012. The motion was carried unanimously.