By Adam Eisenbarth
One family is not seeing eye-to-eye with the Town of Bentley and the issue has boiled over into a formal petition from residents calling for “a formal outside investigation into alleged abuses within the Town of Bentley’s public works department.”
Pam Davey, who, along with her husband Richard submitted the petition, says a variety of issues occurred while he worked in the public works department over the span of a year and a half.
She categorized the concerns into three issues; damaging equipment, money mis-handling and safety issues.
“It was mainly those three things but there was a lot of stuff under each category. There were a lot of things that happened.”
It appears the investigation will cost from $30,000 to $50,000 for Alberta Municipal Affairs or a private company to deal with but Davey feels that cost is a result of council ignoring the issue.
“If they had done their job properly in the first place it wouldn’t be costing taxpayers money to do this investigation.”
Davey says council has not listened to residents’ concerns and they are getting tired of being brushed aside.
“I can’t answer to that, I’ve never heard that,” said Mayor Joan Dickau, who added council will deal with the situation properly.
“I’m quite concerned. I’m very concerned actually, as all of council is concerned. When you have that many people sign a petition, certainly you’ve got to take it seriously.”
Davey however, has not been pleased with the way the situation has been handled and that is precisely why the petition was put together. Davey says she tried to deal with the situation without resorting to a petition first.
“Basically we were not listened to, is how we felt. We felt that our concerns were not listened to so that’s why we came to starting this petition because we felt we had some real concerns.”
Davey also called into question the confusion council had with “alleged abuses.” She says there is no way council couldn’t understand the issues.
“There’s no way that the council, the CAO or the mayor could be unsure because we gave them two letters stating all those things, saying what we were concerned about and that we would like it to be looked into and basically we were brushed off.”
One letter submitted to council, outlined 10 specific issues, from setting off pop bottle bombs during work hours to intentionally driving into outhouses with work vehicles.
“I was told I drive the town equipment too cautiously and was encouraged to be more aggressive with it. I was told not to worry about breaking it,” said Richard in the Nov. 6, 2009 letter.
On Feb. 3 a reply was made from CAO Elizabeth Smart, stating that council was not in charge of personnel concerns and the issue was hers to deal with. She followed that with her own statement to address the issue:
“While it is unfortunate that you left the Town’s employment, I am satisfied with the grounds of your dismissal. I have full confidence in the knowledge and abilities of the Public Works Foreman.”
Davey was also frustrated by any notion that petitioners were mislead.
“I spent two months knocking door-to-door in this town and I spent countless hours talking to people and every door that I went to I explained before anything else, exactly what the petition was about, what the abuses were.”
The Daveys moved to Bentley from Red Deer and planned to spend their lives in the small community but have been frustrated with a number of issues.
“We thought that was going to be his job and we were going to raise our family here and retire here and then all this started happening.”
While she implores town council to listen to the concerns of the public, Davey just wants the issue at hand to be dealt with.
“We want to see the abuses dealt with in the public works department and we just want the people who are in charge to listen to the citizens and to respond to them, not just brush them off. That’s what’s caused this.”