County planners pleased with upward growth

Applications for new development keep coming in to Ponoka County so much that planners expect to see higher numbers than last year.

Applications for new development keep coming in to Ponoka County so much that planners expect to see higher numbers than last year.

Some of that interest stems from the county’s industrial land along the Highway 2 and Highway 53 interchange, explained Ponoka County Assistant CAO Tom Webber during a Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce lunch Tuesday, April 21.

Members of the chamber held their luncheon at the county office for the first time in several years. Webber used the opportunity to provide some highlights for the county.

Besides growth in development, Webber said they are also proud of the county’s involvement with developing high speed Internet in rural areas and with growth at the Don Laing Industrial Park.

“There’s considerable interest from trucking firms,” said Webber.

Since there are no road bans there and being located right along the highway, trucking companies are able to stay mobile. Interest is so large that the county intends to pave the service road for another mile to prepare for expansion.

Rural high speed Internet

After spending $1.2 million on transmission towers, $500,000 of which was from a grant, many rural residents now have high speed Internet. The initiative is drawing interest around the country, explained Webber. “Actually Industry Canada was really interested in this model.”

CAO Charlie Cutforth recently travelled to Ottawa, ON to explain how the process worked, added Webber.

The main reason for setting up the program was because many of the bigger companies such as Telus and Bell are not interested in dealing with rural areas because of the low population.

Development continues to see growth at Ponoka County near Gull Lake. “There’s an incredible amount of development going on at Meridian Beach,” Webber continued.

Financially the county is also doing quite well, he added, partly due to development applications.

“We remain in a fairly solid financial position,” said Webber. “The 2015 budget is set at $35 million, so things are cooking along pretty good.”