The Ponoka Air Cadets is hoping for a $50,000 donation from Ponoka County as they continue to raise enough funds to allow them to relocate.
Commanding officer Cpt. Tracey Fiedler says with 55 cadets and a steadily growing number, in their current building, located on 51 Street, they don’t have the necessary space; there are also numerous expensive renovations needed there.
“We looked at how much it would cost to demolish our building and build on that spot,” said Fiedler. “That was a pretty expensive option for us.”
The idea of building from scratch at a new site was also considered, but Fiedler feels the most logical option is to find a different building in town.
The Air Cadets hope to take over the Ponoka Outreach School building, as it will be empty at the end of August 2015. The building is not owned by Wolf Creek Public Schools and the Fielder says the private owner is offering a 20-year lease to own contract totaling $500,000.
However, with zero money down on the building the Air Cadets program will be making $45,000 payments per year.
A down payment of $100,000 to $200,000 will cut the costs to $25,000 to $35,000 per year.
Fielder says each $50,000 put down the annual payments will be reduced by $5,000.
“We do have $50,000 of existing casino funds that we could use,” said Fiedler. She added they hope to have another $50,000 raised by the end of August.
County councillors were told the program has already applied for 30 grants and all were declined. An application for a lottery grant has been submitted and is awaiting a response.
The Air Cadets program uses three funding sources, the Department of National Defence, the Air Cadet League of Alberta and Ponoka Air Cadets Society.
“The third source is the biggest one,” said Fiedler. “It’s really our parents.”
In the last two and a half years, the program has grown from 29 to 55 cadets and approximately 50 per cent of the cadets’ parents are involved in the society. In a typical year, the Ponoka Air Cadets Society will raise $50,000 to $110,000, says Fiedler.
Council asked what would become of the old building, and were told that after appraisals, it could be put on the market with a value of $50,000 to $100,000. However, buyers would have to take the needed renovations into account.
Fielder mentioned there are already a lot of buildings for sale in Ponoka and a demolition to return the land to the town might be the best option.
Sharing a building was also mentioned but the cadets use their space up to six times per week and requirements include a parade floor, classrooms, storage space and offices, which Fiedler feels would not be convenient for anyone involved.
County councillors are reserving any decision of the matter for their budget deliberations.