By Jasmine Franklin
After much anticipation, construction for the new Ag Events Centre is scheduled to begin soon with a few changes in mind.
The Ponoka Ag Events Centre board has decided to proceed with a project manager rather than a turnkey system where input and direction over construction is limited.
With a project manager, the board has the ability to determine what subtrades are hired.
“We decided to do this because we want as many local businesses as possible involved — it’s about local work and having Ponoka employed through this,” said Ponoka Ag president Sherry Gummow. “We are looking to hire a project manager.”
The manager will be chosen by the board and anyone wishing to apply is asked to contact Bearden Engineering in Red Deer.
Construction of the new centre, south of the Ponoka Legion, is to begin by mid-April with ground turning, so long as weather permits. The 17 acres was donated by the Ponoka Stampede Association, valued at $500,000.
“We can have cattle sales in the new building, concerts and monster truck competitions, if that’s what people are interested in,” Gummow said. “It can be used all-year around.”
Originally estimated at about $8.5 million, costs and plans will be finalized once the new manager is hired.
“We are still fundraising,” Gummow said.
So far, the provincial government has given two grants to the project; $3.2 million through a Major Facilities Community Program (MCFP) grant and $500,000 from the Centennial and Legacy Program. ATB financial recently donated $15,000, EnCana (major corporate sponsor) donated $250,000; Ponoka County gave $1.7 million, and the town $150,000, and the Ponoka Agriculture Society donated $275,000.