Ponoka water, sewerline dispute may be nearing end

A resident dispute over a water and sewer line project in Ponoka that has dragged on for more than five years could be nearing an end, says a man who has fought on behalf of homeowners.

A resident dispute over a water and sewer line project in Ponoka that has dragged on for more than five years could be nearing an end, says a man who has fought on behalf of homeowners.

Nick Kohlman has tirelessly pursued the town for years to refund some of the cost of the $448,000 project completed in 2008. The work was done as a local improvement project, which meant 19 property owners on the street were responsible for almost all of the cost.

Kohlman, who lives in Ponoka County but has represented several 38th Street residents, has long argued that too much was charged to property owners, whom, he says, have been denied a full cost breakdown of the work done. Some of the billed work was never actually done and other work was wrongly billed to property owners, he claims.

The saga has wound its way through appeal boards, the Municipal Government Board and spawned numerous Freedom of Information and Protect of Privacy Act (FOIP) requests.

Last July, an administration-recommended proposal to pay $72,191 to residents was rejected by council.

Last week, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner ordered the town to refund $289.60 charged to Kohlman for photocopying and document preparation time as part of a $588 bill for a FOIP request.

Kohlman’s application to have all fees waived under the grounds the request was a matter of public interest was rejected. The commissioner’s office also found no evidence that the town didn’t respond properly to information requests.

Last December, the 38th Street issue resurfaced again in front of council — which includes five new members. Council decided it wants to review all of the background before making a decision later this year.

Mayor Rick Bonnett and Coun. Loanna Gulka excused themselves from the debate because they live on 38th Street.

Town acting chief administrative officer Betty Quinlan said the photocopying had been charged at the 25-cent-per-page rate under the FOIP Act, but the commissioner wanted a detailed breakdown on costs, such as electricity and paper usage and maintenance bills for photocopiers. That will be considered when future FOIP applications are made.

Kohlman doesn’t agree with the public interest ruling, arguing there were “clear issues of mismanagement involved” in the handling of the project, which started out as a $195,000 project.

“I disagree with that but we’re satisfied the new council is going to look at this entire mess and they’re going to deal with it.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Kohlman said the FOIP process was valuable even though it came at some cost.

“Without FOIP we would not have uncovered what we have uncovered,” he said. For instance, seven gas line crossings that had been charged for were found not to exist, leading to a $4,000 overcharge to residents.

Quinlan said the town has been trying to work with property owners to resolve the issue.

“This has been an ongoing issue for the last five or six years. We do have a new council. We have to bring them up to speed on this local improvement.”

Hopefully, residents will be satisfied with council’s decision when it’s made, she said.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more provincial funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by FCSS

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month