At a recent chamber of commerce luncheon, Mayor Larry Henkelman was invited to speak on the proposed bylaw regarding the reduced hours for liquor stores. The mayor was given opportunity after opportunity to answer a simple question: “Why does the Town of Ponoka need to have a law on the books that reduces the hours of operation for liquor stores and pawn shops?
Our mayor, after more than an hour, finally said it was because of the RCMP overtime costs. He then went on to explain the town has to pay overtime to the RCMP during Ponoka Stampede, but couldn’t answer what overtime costs the liquor stores are responsible for.
I cannot fathom how the hours of the pawnshop that closes at 8 p.m. and is part of this bylaw, costs the town overtime to the police service. The latest any liquor store in town stays open is midnight. Where, Mayor Henkelman is the extra cost in that? Also part of the bylaw is cutting the hours of the provincially approved liquor delivery service known as Dial a Bottle. How does this cost our town overtime to the RCMP? With provincial laws that discourage driving if you even have one drink, what a sane and logical idea it is to have a licensed delivery service that follows the same laws as the retail vendors. Yet Mayor Henkelman wants to limit access to that service as well.
He went on to say he hasn’t sat with a town council like this one, that is so pro-business, yet on the other hand, he couldn’t for any certainty really give any reason for this new law that limits business. But he certainly wants to do that. We just couldn’t find out why.
After the meeting it was painfully obvious the mayor was covering the real reason for this new law. He kept saying it wasn’t to keep the natives out of our town. Mr. Mayor, if that is not the reason for the new law, then what is the reason? I saw for myself, after two hours of you beating around the bush, all you left was a pile of scrub brush and more unanswered questions.