The addition of the Highway 2 thru-way
After countless hours of negotiations, our flamboyant Department of Highways Minister Gordon Taylor and the Alberta Government presented the final decision on the construction and route of a new 52-mile stretch of divided four-lane highway freeway that will replace the current Highway 2 to accommodate the main flow of the extremely heavy and increasing numbers of north/south traffic between Edmonton and Calgary. Also a part of this $13 million ($250.000.00 a mile) project would be the improvement and hard-surfacing of Highway #53 to both the east and the west of Ponoka, with all construction set to start in the spring of 1962.
In the beginning, Taylor had led extensive negotiations with the residents of the Hobbema Indian Reserves to purchase 160 acres of right-away land for the construction of the new free-way through that area. The Alberta Government initially offered $200 an acre, but the natives responded with a request of $40,000.00 an acre, and when that was not accepted, the Hobbema Tribal Chiefs and officials asked for a lifetime payment of $30.00 a month for every man-women-and child living on the reserve, which was also rejected. The final route of the highway will pass 2 ¾ miles west of Ponoka, and in the closing discussions of the project, the Town of Wetaskiwin protested and were extremely disappointed that the new freeway will miss their community by 10 miles to the west.
Major announcement from Town Council
The Ponoka Town Council have been holding many five-hour meetings over the past few months, and made two major announcements last week. Under the direction of newly sworn Mayor Debs Nelson in November, they gave second and third readings to a bylaw to allow for the sale of the existing town hall at 5101-50th Avenue and to approve the sale of debentures for the purpose of funding a project to build a new town hall.
Cost of the project is estimated at $125,000, and the new two-story structure will be designed to host a 16-by-32 foot council chambers, staff offices, a police station, court room, probation officer, a health unit lab, special quarters for the duties of the magistrate-barristers, and witnesses, as well as space to serve customers and accommodate other year round services. Project Architect Dr. Minsos has promised that his final plans will feature a building with dignity and style that will provide adequate space that could later serve a city with a population of 12 to 15,000. The construction will be of strong and durable materials that will last for a lifetime, with construction set to begin in 1962. Another vital announcement was the approval of the construction of a new south bridge over the Battle River, with most of the funding $150,000 coming from the governments.
Also around the council table, with the backing of the Ponoka Retail Merchants Association and with the approval of most of our urban and rural citizens, the decision was made to keep our community parking meters in place, at least for the time being. Shoppers are reminded to bring along lots of nickels, dimes and quarters to keep the metal street monsters fed. Councillor Arthur Wedin reported that our fine police force will soon have radio receiving and broadcasting equipment in their cars and office; and Councillor Cerveny announced that the town will provide and maintain outdoor skating rinks for children in Riverside and Lucas Heights. Yes, it was a very good year, and indeed the future looks very exciting for Ponoka Town and County!