Town councillors had an opportunity to speak with Wetaskiwin MP Blaine Calkins in an open forum.
He came to update council on his activities and to field questions during a May 14 meeting. Federal funding was the main topic discussed by councillors with Coun. Rick Bonnett asking why so little was granted to the town for the Hudson’s Green Activity Centre recently. The town asked for more than $500,000 for the centre and for some other projects but only a small portion, approximately $25,000 was received.
Calkins was quick to respond that the federal government already gave $250,000 to the town for the building. The Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund (CIIF) has now expired after its two-year term with $150 million worth of funds being granted to communities.
“Is this going to be a Government of Canada building Rick, or is going to be a Government of Ponoka building?” he asked. “Unfortunately the Government of Canada won’t be a partner in all things.”
Another plan is in the works to help municipalities though; the Building Canada plan has $32 billion over the next 10 years that municipalities can apply to. Details are not out yet on how funds can be used but will be released soon.
Bonnett also asked if there is going to be extra funding to municipalities that need to fund recreation buildings.
Calkins suggests the gas tax transfer money might be an option but he also encouraged council to speak with Ponoka County and surrounding municipalities such as the Four Nations in Hobbema.
“If they’ve got citizens from their jurisdiction coming here then I encourage you to knock on their door,” said Calkins.
Coun. John Jacobs feels working with the Four Nations is a positive idea as it will help councillors should they decide to develop a multi-plex in Ponoka. “We’re not going to be able to do that alone.”
Calkins recognizes the challenges for municipalities to pay for these buildings with users coming from other jurisdictions. “Sometimes people come from Lacombe too.”
But those same people are also buying gas and shopping in town, he added.