Company seeks to remove power lines on Hwy 53

Power lines on Highway 53 east of Ponoka may become buried in the near future to help with the transportation of large equipment.

Power lines on Highway 53 east of Ponoka may become buried in the near future to help with the transportation of large equipment.

Mayor Rick Bonnett told councillors May 13 he helped facilitate a meeting earlier in the day with Gemini Corporation, Ponoka County, Fortis Alberta and other stakeholders. He told council the meeting was a preliminary discussion to look at the viability of burying power lines.

He feels this will bring some economic benefits to Ponoka as this plan may speed up the expansion of Gemini Corporation from 130 employees to 300. No decisions were made with the companies and Gemini Corporation did not respond to a request for comment.

Land rezoning approved

There were only four councillors that could vote on a request to rezone property on 4007 39 Street from low density residential to low-density narrow lot residential. The request was from Denver and Christie Polson.

Mayor Bonnett and Coun. Loanna Gulka could not vote as they live nearby and Coun. Carla Prediger was not in town at the time of the first reading of the proposal, so she was exempt from voting.

The vote did pass 3-1 with Coun. Tim Falkiner voting against it. The proposal was to take the property and subdivide it into four lots.

Real estate commission policy tabled

A decision to adopt changes to the town’s real estate commission policy has been tabled by council to give administration more time to receive expressions of interest from real estate agents.

The current policy states the town will pay five per cent commission to any realtor arranging a sale of town owned residential, commercial and industrial land. This is the second time the policy came to council as it was tabled to give Betty Jurykoski, planning and development officer, a chance to speak with real estate agents regarding a reasonable commission rate.

“I didn’t approach any real estate companies…We felt it might be awkward,” she explained.

However, her research into reasonable commission rates showed seven per cent for the first $100,000 and three per cent for every dollar above that.

Coun. Carla Prediger asked if it would be better to seek tenders from agents rather than having a fixed commission rate. Jurykoski replied that having a set rate will help the town acquire an agent, under contract, who will work to sell town property.

“What we (would) have is a professional grinding away in the background working for us,” said Jurykoski.

Policy reviews would occur every three years with a two-year contract for the representing agent. Prediger suggested a policy review would be better to coincide with the end of the contract.

Jurykoski was directed to make further changes and to seek expressions of interest from real estate agents.

Water and sewer connection rates outdated

Councillors annulled the town’s water and sewer connection rates policy after findings from Tagish Engineering stated it is out of date.

Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services said the town would get money from a homeowner or contractor to make connections but sometimes those costs were higher than estimated. But recouping the money was next to impossible and taxpayers were left to foot the bill.

“Sometimes you think the main is in the middle of the street and it’s on the other side so it costs an extra $5,000 or $8,000 that they have budgeted,” said Jurykoski.

“It’s just such a cumbersome process,” she added.

Tagish recommended the town have developers hire and pay private contractors directly if the town is too busy to do the work. Coun. Underhill asked if developers with current projects would be affected by this policy change.

McPhee replied it affects new and existing development projects and town staff will still inspect the connections.

Emergency mutual aid with Ermineskin Cree Nation

The Ponoka Fire Department has been providing emergency mutual aid to the Ermineskin Cree nation for some time but nothing formal has been signed.

Councillors approved a formal agreement that identifies procedures for invoking mutual aid, command and control over emergency response personnel and equipment, level of service, indemnity, procedure for cost recovery and inception and termination.

“It breaks it down into how we respond and everything else,” explained Ted Dillon, director of protective services.

He says agreements will be forthcoming from the other bands in Maskwacis. Coun. Prediger asked what the rates are. Dillon replied that he uses Alberta Transportation rates are $200 per hour per unit.

Municipal emergency management

In the event of a disaster or major emergency in the area, a proposed emergency management bylaw will help municipalities work together. Council passed second reading on a Municipal Emergency Management bylaw.

“It addresses the regionalization,” explained Dillon.

“It’s not only firefighting, it’s in the event of a disaster,” he added.

Prediger asked if the province or federal government steps in when there is a case for a state of emergency , but Dillon replied that the responsibility falls on municipalities where the disaster occurs.

“We will call a local state of emergency and they (provincial and/or federal government) will come down to help us and advise us,” he said.

Administration asked for three readings but Prediger denied permission for third reading. Decision for third reading is expected to return to council at the next meeting.

Regional emergency management partnership

Councillors approved the Ponoka Regional Emergency Management Partnership Agreement with Ponoka County, the Town of Rimbey and the Summer Village of Parkland Beach.

Discussions have been ongoing with Ponoka County since 2009 to regionalize emergency management. This plan meets requirements for the allocation of resources, committees and training required to review and update.

The partnership provides clear guidelines for municipalities in the event of a large emergency, explained Dillon.