By Trevor Busch
Town of Taber councillor and former member of the Taber Municipal Police Commission, Rick Rudy Popadynetz, has been charged with assault with a weapon following an alleged incident of domestic violence.
Popadynetz appeared personally in Taber provincial court on Nov. 18 before Judge D.G. Redman, and the charge was adjourned without plea to Dec. 2. According to provincial court documents, the alleged incident in question occurred on Nov. 2.
Last week, Chief Alf Rudd of the Taber Police Service stated the service does not release details to the public in cases involving domestic allegations unless they involve a fatality or other extenuating circumstances. Previously a serving member of the Taber Municipal Police Commission, Coun. Popadynetz has since stepped down from the commission.
“First of all, it’s a personal matter for him, and so we don’t really get much involved,” said Mayor Henk De Vlieger. “All I can say is that for now, he felt it was better if he go off the police commission. By doing that, he told us specifically, ‘I’m not pleading guilty,’ but for the sake of the town, he thought it was better to step down. I think that’s a wise decision from him. As far as council, he can still be on council. For now, we don’t know what’s going to happen — you’re innocent until proven guilty. There’s nothing to forbid him from being on council. We wish him all the best — it’s unfortunate — but like I said, it’s a personal matter.”
In a statement, CAO Greg Birch confirmed Coun. Jack Brewin had been appointed to the police commission as council’s replacement, but was hesitant to definitively state if this was due to the resignation of Coun. Popadynetz.
“Council appointed Jack Brewin to serve on the police commission. He (Coun. Popadynetz) could come as a citizen, but he’s not on the police commission anymore. I wouldn’t expect him to show up, but he could come. The appointees from council are Jack Brewin and Randy Sparks.”
Birch went on to state town council’s position that the criminal charge against Coun. Popadynetz is a “private matter” which will be dealt with as such by the provincial court system, despite Coun. Popadynetz’s current position as a municipally-elected official.
“The official statement that council has given is this is a private matter, and is going before the court system as any private matter would. The Municipal Government Act covers off his role and responsibilities, and certainly this wouldn’t disqualify him from council at all.”
The current chair of the police commission, Ken Holst, stated the commission was aware of the pending charge against a former member, but was provided with no explanation for Coun. Popadynetz’s stepping down and his consequent replacement by Coun. Jack Brewin.
“What was done was town council just made that change,” said Holst. “They swapped him out, and gave me no reason. We do know that allegation, but the change, we were advised by council that it was just their decision to make a change, and because he’s a councillor, they’re within their right to make that change for whatever reason.”
Coun. Popadynetz declined to make a statement about the charge, and his attorney Doug Carle was unable to be reached for comment. The charge will be back before Taber provincial court on Dec. 2.