County council held a public hearing June 19 on a request from Jack and Kathleen Remyn to rezone approximately 105-acres of land to prime location commercial from agriculture for future development. The land holds class two soil and is located on the west side of Highway 2 and north of Highway 53.
CAO Charlie Cutforth said Ponoka County’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) generally keeps land with this type of soil for agricultural use only, but due to it being situated along Highway 2 there is some allowance to reclassify it.
Don Kern was present during the public hearing. He asked what would happen to the land since it is considered agricultural.
Cutforth said the decision is based on the county’s MDP and land use bylaw.
“It’s identified that generally speaking, class one and two soil is for agriculture purposes, except in specific areas like an interchange such as this one. That’s evident by the development that already exists there,” Cutforth explained.
The county would rather have commercial businesses in one area instead of spread around the county, offered Cutforth.
“While the county wants to protect agricultural land there are exceptions to it as you can see by the location,” he said.
“Do you see it as a distraction to the existing community of the Town of Ponoka?” Kern asked.
Coun. Gawney Hinkley said he felt it would be a boon for Ponoka as another business has recently started production in the same area. “It’s in production now and I was in there the other day. They were planning on 24 employees there on Monday and some of them might live in Ponoka. That’s what will bring in the population to Ponoka.”
Cutforth added the Town of Ponoka has also annexed a portion of land on the east side of Highway 2, which will eventually have commercial property.
“There is a plan in place to twin Highway 53 to Highway 2 to town. When that happens, access to the property the town has annexed on the east side will become accessible to the same type of purpose,” he said.
Alberta Transportation will not allow access to the annexed land from Highway 53 until this happens he added.
Cutforth believes that businesses in that area will eventually benefit the town.
Kern feels it would be a detriment to Ponoka.
“I see it as that would be the stop and the town would suffer because people wouldn’t drive into town,” he stated.
Cutforth understands the majority of employees at some of the businesses are already situated in that area, live in town, which he thought would be of benefit to Ponoka.
Town Coun. Rick Bonnett was in attendance and although he did not speak on behalf of town council, he did feel having heavy traffic in town would not be beneficial to residents. He also hoped this would help the downtown area thrive.
“If you look at Red Deer, Blackfalds and Lacombe and all the businesses on Highway 2, they all still feed into their local businesses,” he said.
Councillors approved the request.