With budget deliberations just around the corner, Ponoka County council is continuing to receive funding requests from organizations across the county.
Five funding requests were set before councilors at their Feb. 11 meeting and they decided each one would be deferred for budget discussion; the budget meeting date is set for the end of March.
Ponoka Covered Wagon Handicapped Transport Society is asking for $1,800, which is the same amount as last year despite an increase in client trips from 3,170 to 3,821.
The Ponoka Agricultural Society is also hoping for a sponsorship donation from the county. Sponsorship levels of the Ag Society range from $100 to more than $2,000.
Rimbey Junior Senior High School is in the midst of trying to raise the money to construct a new multi-use sports area, which would include a field for football and rugby as well as a red shale track.
The approximated total cost for the project would be $350,000, but that doesn’t include the scoreboard that’s also being considered and the power to run it.
The project would also include a structure for storage, and could be used as changing rooms for the players.
The school already owns the land that would be used; it sits just west of the school and north of the community centre parking lot.
“I haven’t got anybody to commit yet. It’s just an idea with an engineer drawing,” Bill Argent told council. Argent is helping spearhead the fundraising for the project and is the father to two students at the school.
Last year, the Town of Rimbey paid for Tagish Engineering for a drawing and quote.
It was pointed out to council that the county didn’t contribute to Ponoka Secondary Campus, Ponoka Composite High School at the time, when its track was built.
Rimbey boasts junior and senior six-man football teams as well as junior and senior girls’ rugby teams.
Despite using subpar fields located at the elementary school playground, the rugby team has competed in provincials over the last five years and medaled four of those times, and last year the senior football team was the provincial champion.
“As far as their track and field program, they don’t have a big track and field program, but they don’t have a facility,” said Argent. “They do have a track and field program somewhat at the elementary level. After that, because of the lack of facility, I think there’s just not much there.”
“Too many large projects?”
Council liked the idea of the sports park but CAO Charlie Cutforth says the issue with Rimbey right now is there are many large projects underway — the speedway just outside of town and the Agrim Centre — and that local funding resources are being continually tapped.
Coun. Mark Matejka was also concerned that, once built, Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS) will take control of the sports field and restrict community access. However, Cutforth believes that’s up to each individual school to decide.
Argent says part of the reason the town paid for Tagish is because the parks and recreation department would like to see it as a community project as well. “Now there’s been a change in Rimbey council . . . but at the time they were very on board with that.
“Now as far as the school division goes I don’t know, I haven’t had discussions with them,” he added.
While Argent says the project has the approval of the WCSP, that’s all the school is getting from them at the time being. “At one time there was a proposal to put a facility in there. Unfortunately the school division does not have the funding to even attempt the project, from the information I’ve been able to gather.”
Rimbey Historical Society is asking council for $150,000 to be used in multiple ways around its museum and park.
Pauline Hansen attended the meeting on behalf the historical society and gave council a rundown of what the money would be used for.
To keeps the educational and visual technical tools at museum standards, the society would spend $10,000.
Hansen says the park’s pond also needs repairs and renovations, which would come to another $10,000. A pond liner is needed because the dirt base is allowing algae to flourish at an out of control rate. Surrounding trees also need trimming.
Funds are also needed to extend the museum’s artifact shelter. “It’s all jammed in there. It’s not even displayed properly,” said Hansen.
Upgrades are also needed for the archive office; insulation is needed to control heating costs and the plumbing should be updated. Hansen says “bringing the office up to date” will cost around $20,000.
Hansen says archive storage is expensive, especially when it comes to newspapers, yet it’s a necessary measure as the museum gets calls from as far as the United States seeking the history stored in the old papers. Each archival storage unit costs between $4,000 and $5,000 and Hansen is hoping for four or five units.
Hansen also wants to expand the International Truck Museum and upgrade the site to entice a partnership with Travel Alberta.
Driver shortage serious concern
As the Blindman Handi-Van Society loses more drivers to old age, society representative Harold Kenney says the van no longer has enough drivers to operate efficiently and funds are needed to employ a full-time driver, rather than solely relying on busy volunteers.
The van is down to four drivers, with each volunteer driving for one week out of the month.
Rimbey Handi-Van used to run two vans, one in town and another for out of town trips. However, volunteers were being called when it wasn’t their week to drive and the number had to be cut back to one van.
“We’re asking for $20,000 from the county,” said Kenney, who added the cost of a full-time driver would be around $35,000 per year.
“We probably have a year or two years before it’s going to fall apart,” he added.
“But you don’t want to sit on your laurels, you want to be proactive,” added Reeve Paul McLauchlin.