Discussions on demolition plans for old Town Hall underway

Town of Ponoka Briefs - residents face slight tax hike and looks for clear rules on leases

Town planners are in discussions to demolish the old Town Hall.

There were nine submissions presented to the Town of Ponoka recently regarding the demolition and abatement of asbestos at the old Town Hall. Justin Caslor, engineering technician for the Town of Ponoka, told council Thursday, April 21 during a committee of the whole meeting that it was important that full demolition and abatement be part of the process, and that companies need to be certified in the work.

Full details of the costing was not publicly available at the meeting as no decisions are made during committee of the whole, however, there was some discussion of one proposal by Visco Demolition Contractors. Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services, told council that Visco handles demolition and handling of asbestos.

“This company has their own abatement company within their organization,” said McPhee.

It is expected to take 30 to 40 days to complete the work, but no decisions were made.

Administration stays within 1.5 per cent tax increase

Administration was able to adhere to council’s request to stay within a 1.5 per cent tax increase for the town’s 2016 budget.

Sandra Lund, director of corporate services, said they were able to find some ways to be efficient and reduce expenses in certain areas. What Lund and town planners did was to spend much of the afternoon on Monday, April 11, after the budget meeting looking at where to save money.

Training and development were reduced slightly after a review of the budget saw some departments did not use their full allocation. Other areas of reduction of costs were found in postage and telephone bills; one area of that was in council cell phones. The town was able to use a shared phone and data plan to reduce operational costs.

Council wants clarity on leasing town property

Leasing town property without clear parameters continues to be a concern for town council.

Wes Amendt, director of community services, presented proposals for changes to its leasing and renting policy to help clarify things for business owners and residents. Among the proposed changes is an option of licensing a facility, rather than leasing.

He said legal counsel recommended creating a standalone licensing policy, adding “Licensing makes sense if it’s for a short amount of time.”

There are certain maintenance responsibilities for the town depending on if a person or company is leasing, renting or licensing, explained Flootman. He said it gives the town the proper legal tools to deal with clients.

Coun. Carla Prediger wanted clarification in the proposed policy to give fair requirements to companies and non-profits and suggests a maximum lease term with the option to renew.

Flootman replied that the process will be fair and balanced as the town will have to advertise an opening for two weeks and then take requests for proposals. He added that businesses do prefer some longevity in a lease as it is conducive to long-term planning abilities and stability. “It’s an attempt to find some security of tenure for tenants,” he explained.

This would in turn create revenue for the town.

The proposed policy will go back to administration to clarify the details related to for-profit companies and non-profit associations.

Councillors Tim Falkiner and Sandra Lyon were not in attendance.