Fort Ostell Museum, Ponoka FCSS make their requests to council

Museum deals with drug dealers and operates tight budget

The Fort Ostell Museum and Ponoka Family and Community Services (FCSS) both made their annual budget requests to Ponoka town council during their regular meeting Nov. 12.

Fort Ostell Museum

Sandy Allsopp, museum curator, asked for $26,400 for 2020, about $2,000 more than the previous year.

Allsopp says the museum is “asking for way less than the library,” in good humour.

“If you can match what you gave me last year, we can work with that,” she said.

The museum has 62 research questions so far in 2019, and has had over 2,000 visits.

As part of the presentation, Allsopp submitted a list of the museum’s accomplishments this year, including new displays every two years, a new camera collection this year and monthly suitcase tours to Rimoka, Seasons Ponoka and the Centennial Centre.

“Its nice to deal with the seniors of Ponoka because they’re the ones with all the memories, however, they’re also asking questions.”

The museum installed cameras outside because last summer they saw a “huge problem” with drug dealers in the gazebo, which came to their attention on a day the youth centre was visiting with kids in the park.

Allsopp says there were men actively selling drugs while we were playing with the kids, and she didn’t call the RCMP because she didn’t want to children to witness that.

She says since installing the cameras, and since the snow fall, the dealers have not returned.

Allsopp says the museum works within a tight budget already, saying that at a recent meeting of rural museums, she learned the Wetaskiwin museum has a budget of $200,000 per year and Fort Ostell has $50,000 and tries her best to stay within $30,000.

“We know you do a very good job with very little money,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett.

Family and Community Support Services

“Good news, I’m not asking for more that I have to,” said Shanon Boyce-Campbell, director of Ponoka FCSS, in her opening line to council.

FCSS serves people of all “walks of life and all ages and stages,” from prenatal to end of life, says Boyce-Campbell.

Their operating budget for a year is $401,000 and they receive $40,000 each from the town and county annually.

A few of the programs they operate include Tools for School, Meals on Wheels, the community garden, and the home care contract with Rimbey FCSS brings up their budget substantially, says Boyce-Campbell.

FCSS is also in a position to give back and reinvested $172, 000 in the community in 2019.

Boyce-Campbell says she’s concerned about the changes the provincial government is making, particularly rent subsidies, which affect about 60 families in our community.

Funding has also been cut to services such as Parent Link, Healthy Families and Neighbourhood Places.

“FCSS is somewhat, the umbrella of all those losses. That’s basically my concern. We’re not looking for additional funding, but perhaps additional partnerships to look for solutions as funding disappears and needs increase,” she said.

“If anything I know we will step up and address the issues at hand.”

In 2019, Ponoka FCSS helped residents complete 250 tax returns, which represents millions of dollars coming back to the community in refunds.

Boyce-Campbell wants to expand FCSS’s education program on the importance and benefits of filing tax returns.

“On a daily basis, we impact lives. It’s on those things that council, and residents …. can be very proud of.”

“We know that what you do in our community is very special,” Bonnett said in response.

Bonnett says the Ponoka Youth Centre is, “asking for significantly more this year” and asked Boyce-Campbell for her opinion on the matter, given her perspective of the needs of youth in the community.

Boyce-Cambell says that the new proposal being put out through child welfare will change the current structure of community programs, essentially bringing all services for children 0 to 18 years old under a community hub, that then has direct programming or partnerships that provide programming.

She says as all agencies come together they will have to address that and keeping some of those contracts local is “imperative.”

FCSS gives $30,000 to the youth centre and $25,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) annually and has given a total of $750,ooo to those organizations over the years.

“Do I think it’s a need? Yes. Do I think Parent Link is a need? Yes. Everyone’s in the same position … unfortunately everything has to outline with outcomes,” she said, saying she has to do some more digging on that question.

She added that grant requests to FCSS are increasing and “everything and everyone has a need” but investing in youth now helps prevent putting out fires at the end of the day.

It’s about weighting and measuring and “that’s the fun task you guys have,” she said.

Wheelchair Van Society

FCSS had a separate funding ask for its Wheelchair Van Society.

FCSC has been running the program for the past three years, which has given them some “steep learning under our belts.”

Maintenance costs of the aging vans are “ever-growing” and so FCSS’s ask this year is slightly larger, but would taper off after the third year, says Boyce-Campbell.

Part of the reason for the increase would be to allow for a transportation study to be done.

Needs may include smaller units for medical appointments, as sometimes trips are for just one person, and drivers have to wait during the appointment, all making it expensive to run the buses.

FCSS wants to build partnerships with the town and county to work on new ideas and solutions.

“We want to open our minds to all kinds of things with those buses” perhaps opening up to able and disabled bodies, and perhaps having some routes in town, as Ponoka is geographically large to walk to all locations.

Bonnett replied that the town will continue to work with FCSS as it can, but “dollars will be tight.”

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