At the public meeting July 13 to hear about the Town of Ponoka’s annexation proposal, I pointed out that the Walberger quarter is shown as completely developed industrial land. Town officials and the consultant didn’t seem to know if this quarter section was completely developed industrial land or if it was vacant developable industrial land.
The land I am referring to is south of the Dodge dealership, extending to the airport road on the west side of Highway 2A. After about $100,000 of taxpayers’ money spent on their annexation proposal, one could expect the town council and their consultants to know what industrial land is available within the town limits.
On July 20, one week after the public meeting, the town’s consultant phoned me and confirmed that there was an error in the Growth Study and the land in question was not developed industrial land but was in fact developable industrial land.
The significance of the town’s misinformation is that by adding about 150 acres of this land to their total of developed industrial land and then dividing by the town’s 2006 population they get an inflated growth requirement factor of 57 acres per 1,000 population growth, a requirement of an additional 370 acres. Their study states they have 130 acres of developable industrial land, therefore they would require an additional 240 acres or one and one-half quarter sections for the next 50 years. (They are proposing to annex more than 600 acres of industrial land.)
Subtracting the undeveloped land from the Walberger quarter, the correct amount of existing developed industrial land in Ponoka is about 220 acres, minus the existing 130 acres leaves a requirement of about 90 additional acres for the next 50 years. The Walberger quarter contains about 110 acres of developable industrial land, therefore the town already has more land than they require.
In addition, the Berg land on the east side of Highway 2A, where the Ag Events Centre is being built, also contains about 100 acres of developable industrial and commercial land. The town’s Growth Study states this quarter is owned by the Ponoka Stampede Association. In our telephone conversation, the town’s consultant admitted this was also not true. The Ponoka Stampede Association purchased 20 acres, leaving most of this quarter still owned by Mr. Berg.
Using their own method of calculation, the town is actually proposing to annex enough land for about 150 years. To annex good farmland 100 years before it is needed makes no sense. given the very high cost of extending services out to Highway 2, makes this development prohibitive and the fact that the town is neglecting to provide low cost industrial land, makes their annexation proposal a very poor plan.
These examples are just two of many false and misleading statements found in the town’s Growth Study. It is obvious town council spent about $100,000 to misinform and mislead the public.
Given the facts, what is the real reason for this annexation? And, will there be an election in Ponoka this fall?