Councillors approve recreation and culture master plan

The future of culture and recreation in Ponoka has now been set on a track after town council approved a new recreation and culture plan.

The future of culture and recreation in Ponoka has now been set on a track after town council approved a new recreation and culture master plan during a regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 12.

The plan, which sets specific dates for the replacement of recreation buildings and the construction of cultural buildings in town, shows an almost immediate need to replace the aquaplex.

Planner Gary Debney of McElhanney Consulting said the long range plan of the document lays out a road map of what the town needs to prepare for. Mayor Rick Bonnett voiced concern over dates forecast in the plan, which sees replacing the aquaplex with a leisure pool by September, 2019.

“Those dates are coming up rather quickly,” suggested Bonnett.

Debney replied that the mechanics of the pool, plus a leaky roof, means the town needs to act quickly otherwise there will be no pool for residents at all. “It could fail at any time,” said Debney.

The filtration system, roof, basin and other walkways have issues but the structure itself is in reasonable shape; however, putting a new pool in place of the current pool within the same building is estimated to cost somewhere between $7 to $8 million, Debney said. If council decided to go that route, residents would again be out of a pool for some time during the construction phase.

Debney advised that the whole community, residents of both the town and county, need to come together as a group to help make the pool a reality. The estimated cost to build a leisure pool is $12 million.

Coun. Loanna Gulka asked if something else could be built in the aquaplex space. She wondered if a skate park would work.

Determining that will take some time until the town receives a structural report of the building. A report is in the works, said Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services.

An open house on the plan is set for Monday, Feb. 1 at the Hudson Green and Nature Activity Centre from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Traffic bylaw approved

The new traffic bylaw has been approved by council with little discussion.

The bylaw gives the town some powers when it comes to snow removal in the downtown area and in residential streets as well as parking, sidewalk clearing and violation tickets for offences.

Approving this bylaw will help the new peace officer the town has budgeted for.

Clarifying the peace officer position

The peace officer position the town approved for 2016 needed to be clarified.

Interim CAO Doug Wright told council that there are two levels for a community peace officer (CPO): CPO 1 and CPO 2. Wright said the former will be able to patrol, educate and enforce bylaws while the latter is more of an administrative roll.

For the CPO 1 position, council would need to budget another $7,000 to $10,000 in addition to the $67,000 already budgeted for. Coun. Carla Prediger suggested that the CPO 1 position was what they intended to have during deliberations.

“Are we overlapping the RCMP?” asked Coun. Marc Yaworski.

Wright replied that is not the case as a peace officer cannot deal with criminal code cases. He also recommended council approve the increase to pay for a CPO 1 position.

Council approved the request with Coun. Tim Falkiner opposed.

Utility services bylaw approved

Third reading of the utility services bylaw was approved with little discussion after seeing how other municipalities access utility penalties to building owners.

McPhee told councillors there is a trend with municipalities to apply utility arrears to taxes. “A lot of municipalities have gone that route.”

He added the bylaw allows the town some flexibility when dealing with residents in good standing. He said a roll out plan is underway to inform homeowners.

Other approvals

Council appointed Clayton West to the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board for two years starting Jan. 1 and administration will continue to look for someone to fill the other vacant position.

Wright told council that only one application was received.

Council also approved third reading of the police advisory committee bylaw with a new CAO and RCMP Staff Sgt. to set up the committee.