Ponoka’s new town council moved swiftly at its first meeting to start the process for regionalization options with Ponoka County.
This new council, with the ink probably still drying from the swearing in ceremony Oct. 24, voted unanimously to have the town work with the county.
The motion was made by Coun. Carla Prediger, but she left the general motion open to give administration some room to work.
When asked about her motivation, Prediger said the province is starting to legislate some form of collaboration with neighbouring municipalities but even before these changes were proposed, there were communities around the province already practicing some form of collaboration or regionalization.
This could be anything from fire services, waste management, policing or recreation.
“If we need to make change, we need to look at it from the lens of regionalization,” said Prediger.
There are examples of this type of system working but there are also areas where the smaller communities’ needs can get missed. When asked about these potential issues, Prediger feels that can be avoided.
She has researched where the model works and points out that in discussion with those areas, planners were clear about how it can, indeed, work.
“The one thing they both said very clearly is that both of you have to be willing to work together,” said Prediger. “There can’t be a poor cousin.”
This is possible by finding out how each municipality impacts the other. “You have to be able to sit down and say, ’ Here’s how we need each other.’”
Prediger feels regionalization — which is also about relationship building — could start with any one service, and then build them up to others over time.
“There’s models out there that have proven to be successful so why wouldn’t you just start from there and then finding out what’s your common denominator,” she suggested.
Her hope is to give administration the chance to begin the discussions and then have the councils meet in the middle. “I think we’re going to have to start small or we’re just going to explode.”
An important piece of the puzzle for Prediger is to take the boundaries out of the discussion.
Coun. Teri Underhill was not in attendance of the meeting and was sworn in Oct. 27.
A change to town council meeting times starts in November.
Starting Nov. 14 council meetings will begin at 5 p.m. until the May 8 meeting, with times then starting at 7 p.m.
The deputy mayor schedule has also been revamped to eight-month terms rather than two months at a time. This is intended to give councillors a better understanding of the roll of mayor, explained Mayor Rick Bonnett.
The schedule has already started:
• October 2017 to May 2018 – Coun. Ted Dillon
• June 2018 to February 2019 – Coun. Teri Underhill
• March 2019 to November 2019 – Coun. Carla Prediger
• December 2019 to July 2020 – Coun. Sandra Lyon
• August 2020 to March 2020 – Coun. Kevin Ferguson
• April 2021 to October 2021 – Coun. Clayton Nelson
• Finance and Human Resources – Underhill
• Finance & HR Committee – Underhill/Bonnett
• Planning, Promotion and Economic Development – Lyon
• Economic Development Board – Lyon/Underhill
• Heritage and Downtown Revitalization Committee – Prediger/Nelson
• Subdivision and Development Appeal Board – Lyon/Bonnett
• Parkland Community Planning Services (annual mtg.) – Lyon
• Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) – AGM – Lyon/Nelson
• Protection and Safety Services (COPS, Rural Crime Watch, RCMP Liaison) – Dillon/Prediger
• Police Advisory Committee – Dillon
• Ponoka Victim Services – Dillon
• Emergency Advisory Committee – Dillon
• Community Services – Ferguson/Nelson
• Ponoka Jubilee Library Board – Ferguson/Nelson
• Parkland Regional Library Board – Ferguson/Nelson
• Fort Ostell Museum – Ferguson/Nelson
• Recreation, Parks and Trails – Prediger/Underhill
• Recreation Advisory Committee – Prediger/Underhill
• Ponoka Ag Events Centre Society – Underhill/Bonnett
• Ponoka Stampede & Exhibition Association (Liaison) – Dillon/Bonnett
• Social and Health Services – Ferguson
• Family and Community Support Services Board – Ferguson/Lyon
• Rimoka Housing Foundation – Dillon/Prediger
• Transportation, Utilities, Cemetery and Environmental Services – Nelson
• Utilities/Environmental Committee – Nelson/Bonnett
• Airport Development Board – Underhill/Lyon
• North Red Deer River Water Services Commission – Bonnett
• Recreation – Prediger/ Underhill
• Canada Day in the Park – Prediger
• Pě Săkăstěw Centre – Bonnett