Boys and Girls Club implores town for support

While the Town of Ponoka council denied direct funding to the Boys and Girls Club of Wolf Creek this year

While the Town of Ponoka council denied direct funding to the Boys and Girls Club of Wolf Creek this year, councillors are contemplating supporting the organization in other ways.

At council’s Tuesday Feb. 10 meeting, a letter from executive director Beth Reitz appealed to council to support three areas of the organization.

Each year the Ponoka Youth Centre pays approximately $2,200 to the town for water. Reitz is hoping the town will cover the cost of the utility, as it has done in the past.

Reducing swimming fees for the group, as they pay approximately $1,000 each year and a $1,000 donation to the organization’s benevolent fund was also on the menu.

“Their funding has been suspect over the last year,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett.

He says the town does not have a lot of extra money this year to spread around, but when the matter comes back to council, a decision will be made to either deny the request, cover the charges either in whole or in part.

Mayors caucus items

With the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) Mayors’ Caucus approaching, March 10 to 12, the town is looking for its own support for educational and environmental issues.

At the council meeting, Coun. Loanna Gulka spearheaded a motion to add a system change in school playground funding to the list of issues that need addressing.

The Ponoka Elementary School is set to move to its new location before the end of the academic year and the challenge of raising enough money for a playground has been prominent.

Council feels the onus should be on the education system to provide a playground for every Kindergarten to Grade 6 elementary school.

In December, council sent a letter to the provincial government on the matter and on Jan. 27, a letter in response stated the government will not provide playgrounds to schools.

“To me that says we’re handing that down to the municipalities and the parents of the schools,” said Bonnett.

With childhood obesity on the rise, he feels the government should show more concern and take action.

“It’s important for their development, the social part,” agreed Coun. Marc Yaworski.

Underground steel tank clean up serious issue

The brownfields — locations where gas stations used to operate with underground fuel tanks still left behind— is a matter Bonnett will be raising at the gathering.

Bonnett says, in the 1950s and 60s, most towns had a gas station on every street corner. But as vehicles began getting better fuel mileage many became obsolete and closed down, leaving steel fuel tanks underground.

“And you know what happens to steel underground, they rust away,” said Bonnett.

He says there are multiple sites in town with underground tanks and neither the government nor the companies with clean them up. Instead the companies continue to pay taxes on the private land locations.

“We see areas in this town, there’s places that are vacant and aren’t being utilized properly,” said Bonnett.

He wants to lobby the government for changes to how the brownfields are assessed. More background information is needed on what tax implications changes would have on the town.

In the future, Bonnett hopes municipalities will have tools to better deal with areas that need to be cleaned up and looked after.