After lots of discussions with experts and lots of frustration in the process, it appears that the Town of Ponoka covered its butt.
No one can say with certainty what the whole story behind the new Learning Center/Town Hall really is. Ponoka citizens have at the moment no choice as to take the deal as it is done. They must live with it and pay for it.
But I want to still point out some important issues and I hope that town council, the mayor and the CAO implement new rules and regulations in handling town affairs.
First: As a town, never get involved in a 35-year lease, it is high-risk with double or triple interest and an expensive deal from private companies instead from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority. This was the thought from Rowland/Parker and Associates in their first assessment of the agreement. A long-term lease agreement to the conditions of Ponoka was never done before in Alberta, and apparently the Municipal Government Act (MGA) was not up to date at the time the deal was made. It is believed the existing loophole in the MGA will be closed by end of the year of 2018.
Second: In the future get all bylaws correct, all paperwork correct, no contradiction, no hidden agenda or so-called loopholes by bending the law or even the MGA.
Third: Public tender needs to be made and laid open for any project or purchase over $500,000, and should be negotiated in a criteria process to industry standard.
Fourth: No conflict of interest should ever occur for any councillor or mayor, as per oath, and if so the elected official in question has to recuse himself from the council debate and voting process, noted in written words in the council minutes.