This is to advise your reporter, Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye incorrectly reported in the March 16 edition of the Ponoka News, I am not in favour of regionalization. To the contrary, I refer to my Feb 10/16 paid public letter where I specifically state I am “in favour of regionalization … in theory”.
At the March 8 Council meeting, I made a brief statement in reference to Mr. Bergman’s assertion he was representing ‘all’ of Ponoka residents. My disagreement was of his reference to ‘all’. I believe petitions are nothing more than knee-jerk reactions to contentious issues. They often lack sufficient information to make an informed decision and statistically results are low pertaining to voter turn-out when a plebiscite is called. To call for a petition/plebiscite as soon as one disputes decision-making by Council is futile and costs monies that could be spent elsewhere. Should I have questions as to how or why Council decides as they do … I ask or make my opinion known at the ballot box.
I do dispute Ponoka Town and County representatives’ process regarding the regionalization of emergency protective services. I believe the process lacked transparency, honest and integrity. Alberta Association of Municipal District and Counties (AAMDC) produced a document entitled ‘Finding Local Solutions: Examining the Impacts of Forced Regionalization’ (dated Nov/11). This document does highlight Edmonton and Calgary difficulties regarding attempts at regionalization. On page 3 there are ten points identifying ‘What is forced regionalization?’. I note with interest two points – #3 Compromised political autonomy – demanding a municipality compromise or foregoes its political autonomy; #8 Regional non-transparency – promoting back-room deal making at the expense of public scrutiny.
The Lethbridge Herald reported in its March 13/16 paper the MD of Taber intends to create a separate fire service in April 2017. As described in the article there are many similiarities with the failed attempt of regionalization between Ponoka’s Town and County councils. What is happening for municipalities to resort to such action? Is it a lack of understanding the intent of ‘regionalization’?
It is time those in a position to influence act responsibly and with integrity. This includes accurate and unbiased reporting by local media. Town and County residents deserve better. The issue of regionalization of services is not an insurmountable problem. I am of the belief that all those who let their names stand for office do so with the best of intentions. I also maintain all elected officials need to rise to the task and demonstrate the leadership with which they have been entrusted. If our two Councils cannot come to a fair and equitable resolution to the issue of emergency protective services, is it time Alberta Municipal Affairs be brought in to assess the folly of two fire departments in our region?