Council tables request until it sees financial statement

Town councillors have tabled a request for $50,000 from the Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society (PAECS)

Town councillors have tabled a request for $50,000 from the Ponoka Ag Event Centre Society (PAECS) during their regular meeting Feb. 12.

As one of the founding partners, the Town of Ponoka agreed to assist with operations of the ag event centre with $50,000 a year for the first three years. CAO Brad Watson said there has been a surplus in its first year of operations. “From a technical standpoint it makes it a little awkward.”

A letter from PAECS in May 2008 states the board hoped for financial support from the four partners, the Ponoka Stampede and Exhibition Association, the Ponoka Agricultural Society, the Town of Ponoka and Ponoka County. “We are therefore requesting that the council and the Town of Ponoka become an ‘operational partner’ in the amount of up $50,000 per year for up to three years.”

Councillors John Jacobs and Rick Bonnett were not in attendance and Coun. Loanna Gulka requested the decision be tabled until all council was present. “As well as the facts that at the time we have not had the time to actually look at the financial statement and this is a financial decision.”

Coun. Doug Gill, past president of PAECS, was the only one opposed to the decision.

Public hearing date set for rezoning

Councillors voted to give first reading to a bylaw that is intended to reclassify four lots on 52 Avenue and 51 Street.

The land has been acquired by the Knights of Columbus, operating as the Ponoka Columbus Club, who intend to develop senior housing residences, explained Watson. “They’re prepared to move ahead…All of the other conditions are met.”

Coun. Izak van der Westhuizen was concerned council would not have any say over how the buildings are constructed. “How do we control what’s happening after we do this?”

The proposal is to build two four-storey buildings with underground parking for tenants and Watson said the land use bylaw dictates what the group is allowed to do in the area.

A public hearing is set for March 12 at 7 p.m. in the council chambers.

Racing at the airport

Watson has been in discussion with a group that intends to host a race car shootout at the Ponoka Industrial Airport from Aug. 9 to 12.

Coun. Shayne Steffen said the group is requesting support in principle for the race. “They wanted to make sure they had all their bases covered before they started.”

He estimates 2,000 people would attend the event based on other shootouts in the area. Some details such as redirecting airplanes still need to be organized but the intention is to have a day to setup, two days for the event and one day for cleanup.

Coun. van der Westhuizen feels there are two important aspects with an event such as this; to bring people to Ponoka and to raise funds for the airport.

Watson did not expect much in the way of proceeds to the town for the event as this will be the first time it is hosted in Ponoka.

“Let them get a handle on it,” he suggested. “It’s a fledgling group, they’re trying to get something going.”

Coun. Doug Gill supports the idea because it could be a large draw for Ponoka. “What they’re trying to do is develop a circuit year after year.”

Community services updates

Community services director Wes Amendt has met with a group called Ride for Site that is going to host a bike rally June 21 to 22. “We’re expecting about 400 people to come.”

The group is a charity that raises funds for eye diseases. They will perform acrobatic stunts at the arena as well as other events. Since it is the week before the Ponoka Stampede, Amendt is working out camping and logistics for organizers.

Ski trails reset

The cross-country ski trails have been reset at the Ponoka Golf Club because of the warm weather and recent snowfall. The town has been able to hire a local trail setter. Amendt said the town is accepting donations from users, which can be made at town hall.