After 24 years of service, former Ponoka County Coun. Gawney Hinkley has many stories to look back on.
He was also a board member with the Ponoka Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) for 20 years. One thing he is most proud of is helping set up the Cancer Fund about 15-years ago, which he was able to make use of recently. “There’s been a tremendous amount of use from the local people.”
He feels it was better to spend the money to help people locally rather than to a large organization. Travelling to large cities for treatment can be expensive and paying for medication even more so, said Hinkley. This program has helped many people over the years.
After being diagnosed with lymphoma cancer, Hinkley lost 55 pounds last year. He had to deal with being a councillor and his health.
“I got a get well card and a cheque for $500,” said Hinkley.
“I do know a lot of the people in the area now that do need it,” he added.
FCSS also makes use of a Home Care contract from Alberta Health Services and has been for the last few years. Groups such as FCSS and for-profit agencies such as Bethany Group make use of these contracts to provide home care. Hinkley helped ensure that Bethany Group would not compete with FCSS to win the grant.
He feels FCSS’s future is uncertain with changes to Alberta Health Services. Ponoka has had the contract since the ’70s and Rimbey since approximately 2003.
“They (FCSS) have a challenge they can’t hardly meet because of the situation of what the province has done with mental health alone,” he stated.
The board of directors for FCSS may have had differences of opinion on plans but Hinkley believes that is a sign of a strong group. He credits director Shannon Boyce-Campbell for doing well in her role. Rimbey and Ponoka are part of the same FCSS group and Hinkley said the two agencies have worked well together.
As for his work as a county councillor, Hinkley suggests one of the best things councillors can do is raise their voices at the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMDC) and at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA).
“It’s the only way you can get legislations changed in the province. The only good way that’s going to get it changed,” he stated.
Despite issues last year with the Calnash Trucking Ag Event Centre, Hinkley is proud Ponoka County had a hand in its development. “Eighty-five years from now, that agriplex building will still be used.”
“That’s why I pushed for it,” he added.
Hinkley was able to make strong contacts in the provincial government and with other counties and is grateful for that time. He has received many cards of support with his recent health issues.
There have been almost countless committees that he has been a part of and Hinkley in particular remembers zoning land near Maskwacis to develop the Pê Sâkâstêw Centre. He is proud of the project, but believes changes from the federal government hindered the centre’s operation.
Hinkley is enjoying life outside of council and has been told his health is improving.