Water plant conversion supported by federal gov’t

Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins presented Ponoka Mayor Larry Henkelman Sept. 23 with a grant for $87,100 from Community Adjustment Fund. It will be matched by the town to convert the old steel and concrete building northwest of the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre into a community activities centre in the growing neighbourhood.

By George Brown

Community groups and visitors to Ponoka will benefit from the renovation of the old water treatment plant through a federal grant program.

Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins presented Ponoka Mayor Larry Henkelman Sept. 23 with a grant for $87,100 from Community Adjustment Fund. It will be matched by the town to convert the old steel and concrete building northwest of the Ponoka Hospital and Care Centre into a community activities centre in the growing neighbourhood.

Located on municipal reserve land, the redeveloped plant site will serve as an interpretive centre, a meeting space and community park. Henkelman said the Hudson Green nature space includes wetlands and a greenbelt and will complement activities at the centre.

It was estimated to cost $250,000 to reclaim the site but only $174,200 to convert it to a community activities centre. The town’s share is $87,100 and will come from the 2010 municipal budget.

“This funding, provided through the Community Adjustment Fund, will now enable us to convert this structurally sound building into a facility that will greatly enhance our community by meeting the needs and interests of numerous visitors and organizations, both now and into the future,” Henkelman explained.

Calkins said the improvements to the water treatment plant will benefit the community by creating jobs, providing opportunities to learn about nature and the environment, and attracting visitors.

“Our government, through the Community Adjustment Fund, is providing a timely, targeted stimulus to western Canadian communities, helping reduce the impact of the global recession,” said Calkins. “We have been hard hit by the current economic slowdown — and Ponoka’s no exception.”

Calkins said the low price for oil and gas is really kicking us in the pants in this area. It’s affecting communities, it’s affecting jobs, it’s affecting families and it’s affecting quality of life.”

Work will begin soon to finalize the design of the interior space. Removal of the old water treatment tanks and other equipment will likely be a winter works project. Occupancy should be by the end of 2010.

After treating its own water since the community was founded, Ponoka connected to the North Red Deer River Water Services Commission in 2006, making the 4,500-square-foot plant redundant.