As I am sure everyone who follows the Rimbey Review knows, the land sale agreement between Johnson Estates and Ponoka County is not able to proceed because the Town of Rimbey refuses to negotiate any further with Johnson Estates.
The town council in the column entitled “Town of Rimbey Development Guideline” (Rimbey Review February 25, 2014) states that it ended negotiations because it concluded that the Town was being asked to make ”excessively generous financial contributions”. First, the Town Council made a motion in 2012 to provide a sanitary line and a water line to the lot being prepared for the Senior’s Housing Complex. The Town, when it terminated negotiations was not even financially willing to complete those items. Second, the Town terminated negotiations at a point when numbers were getting very close. Third, how do they know what financial contributions Johnson Estates would settle on – they never completed negotiations. Lastly, if the Town was so concerned with Johnson Estates wanting too much why did the Town refuse to provide Johnson Estates with a list of conditions it would unilaterally impose should a subdivision application proceed?
The Town can give their reasons why the negotiations had to end but I have difficulty accepting any of their reasons when the reality is they had another offer for lands in their pocket. I believe that if the Town did not have the other offer they would have stayed at the bargaining table and finished the deal. They were not transparent or honest in disclosing this offer and in my opinion, the Town Council by entertaining the offer lost its ability to negotiate in good faith and be fair. Further, the Town was not diligent, in my opinion, in researching the requirements of servicing the lot at an appropriate time (i.e. prior to requesting Johnson Estates to expend extensive funds to design a lot and amend the Area Concept Plan) and Johnson Estates’ request to the Town to come back to the bargaining table was held in camera –again, a lack of transparency. Lastly, I query whether confidential information regarding the status of negotiations was provided to anyone not entitled to receive this information, namely the other land owners? How and why did another offer come about so late in the process?
These questions are important for all ratepayers to ask because when a Council acts with a lack of good faith, fairness, and transparency it is at a minimum an ineffective Council and at its worst a detrimental Council. In my opinion, Council is acting in a detrimental fashion and this matter, including conduct, should be the subject of a public meeting.