Building permits are moving along relatively smoothly for the Town of Ponoka, which is seeing some growth compared to last year.
From January to the end of July, the town has seen 46 building permits this year compared to 40 for the same time period in 2015, explained Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development.
“We even track the decks, the improvements and the values of decks,” explained Schmidt.
The detailed tracking helps the town understand the value of a variety of projects, including residential, commercial industrial and institutional. That information is provided to the Safety Codes Council (SCC), of which the town is a member.
When looking at the data, Schmidt said town planners look for continued growth within the community. Renovations and additions to existing homes and commercial development is just as important as brand new commercial development.
“In April, we have issued a permit for over $1 million for construction of a strip mall, gas station, convenience bar,” said Schmidt, referring to a development in the Froman Industrial Park.
July also saw some new commercial development with a project valued at $1.3 million and a commercial addition for $1.2 million.
“All of the parties we have dealt with this year have been excellent,” said Schmidt. “People are coming in, asking questions.”
He says town planners stay in touch with developers on a weekly basis to ensure everyone is on the same page and that they’re within compliance. “That’s really important to us for them to achieve that.”
For Schmidt, having developers feel welcome in the community is important to seeing growth. The town’s goal is to assist development applicants in obtaining their approvals. “We’re happy to see all of it.”
“New growth is great. But so is redevelopment and intensification of existing areas.”
The downtown area of Ponoka has some neighbourhoods that may need updating and with the potential of a new learning centre and town hall being moved to the old hospital location, there is an opportunity to enhance services. Town council recently approved the idea of a letter of intent to work with a land developer on that site.
“Typically (there is) a trend in municipal development to see the lands around the downtown intensify,” explained Schmidt.
If that initiative were to move forward, there is also some potential for large construction values to occur.
Town finances update
The town’s finances appear to be in order.
Information provided to council Tuesday, Aug. 9 during the regular meeting shows that the Town of Ponoka’s capital budget is $10.3 million with $3.5 million in expenditures by the end of June. As not all the invoicing has been sent to the town and some projects are still active, that number is expected to rise before the year is out.
There are 45 projects this year with 16 of them new and the rest carry-forward.
A breakdown of capital projects show administrative expenses sitting at $14,800, about one per cent of the $1.59 million budgeted. Protective services is sitting at the highest per cent over budget, 63 per cent, with $450,000 spent of the $710,000 budgeted for.
Property services is sitting at 50 per cent with $2.81 million spent of the $5.64 million budgeted, a large chunk of that budget is from the $4.47 million north bridge construction.
The town’s operating statement is sitting at an operating surplus of $166,682 as of the end of June with revenues at $8.27 million and expenditures at $7.74 million. Revenues and expenditures are on target sitting at 49 per cent and 48 per cent respectively.
Municipal taxes are sitting at $3.12 million and goods and services are sitting at $3.91 million. Operating expenses show administration at $1.1 million, protective services — which encompasses fire and RCMP — at $1.14 million, property services at $931,000, water and waste water at $1.4 million, electrical at $1.04 million and recreation at $921,000.