One thing Mayor Rick Bonnett is excited for in 2017 is the potential for the town’s recreation plans.
Looking to the new year, Bonnett said he feels there is a strong opportunity of infrastructure funding from the federal government for the Town of Ponoka’s arena project. “The recreation design is coming together. We’ll have that by February.”
Add to that a recreation sub-committee was recently approved by council to become its own standalone fundraising group. This group will be a full-fledged association and will raise money to benefit recreation plans and goals in Ponoka.
Plans are already in the works for a St. Patrick’s Day fundraising event, says Bonnett. “That’s going to be a nice splash to get the fundraising up and going for the recreation centre.”
“It says to the federal government and the provincial government that we’re working towards getting ourselves some fundraising,” explained Bonnet. “And not just sitting and waiting for government handouts. We want to be able to show the governments that, as a community, we’re behind it.”
Another area Bonnett is excited is in the lease deal being worked on with Campus Alberta Central (CAC), Landrex developers and town administration for a new town hall and learning centre. The plans are to demolish the old hospital on 50 Street and make way for the new space but a deal with Landrex has yet to be made.
While nothing has been announced on the proposal, Bonnett suggests it will be a positive boon to Ponoka to have post-secondary education in the community.
“If CAC goes (well) then there’s some potential for growth. With the state of the economy we can only go up,” suggested Bonnett, adding that construction could start fairly quickly if lease negotiations are approved.
The change in leadership in the United States also poses uncertainty. Bonnett suggests there will be more deregulation south of the border, which will put the United States in an upswing in its economy. With Canada struggling, he feels this will adversely affect Canadians.
2017 also happens to be an election year. Bonnett’s advice to residents is to listen to the candidates and ask strong questions about their goals for Ponoka.
“They (voters) want to definitely listen to what the candidates are saying,” he said.
“Make sure they’re on the same page as you are.”
Pushing for changes in 2017, Bonnett wants to see a complete switch in how the town uses funds from the electrical department. Currently the town’s modus operandi is to use excess funds from the town’s electrical distribution system to pay for operational deficits.
The mayor wants to see it become its own entity and to have excess funds help pay for large capital projects. “Dividends should be used for large capital projects only.”
One more thing Bonnett would like to see more of in Ponoka is a regionalization of resources with municipalities in the area. He feels there is some cost savings to residents operating in this manner.
As for the economy, his only hope is that things will turn around for the better.