Museum request denied after budget hit economy

Since the Alberta government made many cuts to its budget this year the Fort Ostell Museum is finding more financial challenges

Since the Alberta government made many cuts to its budget this year the Fort Ostell Museum is finding more financial challenges than usual.

The museum was hoping for a $3,000 increase in the county’s donation, taking it from $3,000 to $6,000. The money would go toward dust curtains to protect the artifacts and a summer student.

However, Coun. Keith Beebe pointed out everybody had been hit by the budget cuts and the donation remained the same.

Subdivision market flooding

To date, Ponoka County has also received 18 subdivision applications and 47 development permit applications, which is similar to last year’s levels.

CAO Charlie Cutforth says the area, especially around Gull Lake, has flooded the market with subdivision lots.

He said two high end lots on the west side of Secondary Highway 771 were recently sold at auction for half their value the seller was asking through real estate. “It’s a concern . . . there’s substantial vacant subdivisions all over.”

“It’s an indication that the area is flooded with it,” he added.

The risk of auctioning lots at a lower value is they may be developed below the standards of the surrounding area in the future, said Cutforth.

However, Cutforth is perplexed on how Ponoka County can gain the upper hand on the situation. “The difficulty for the county is how do you, how do we, get some kind of control over that market? Somebody gets approved here but not next door? It’s touchy, it’s a really difficult thing.”

Contribution application forms

County council is developing an application form that will require donations to be requested only twice per year for each different organization or society.

“We look at contributions all year long, every meeting we have somebody else coming in,” said Coun. George Verheire.

“I’d rather see it come twice a year, that way we know how much money is going in and going out,” he added.

He wants to see a balance of the contributions, which Reeve Gordon Svenningsen feels will aid the budgeting process.

The application wouldn’t restrict requests in the case of unforeseen emergencies.

Noxious weed bylaw

A bylaw labeling absinthe wormwood as a noxious weed was given first and second reading at council’s April 23 meeting.

According to Shayne Steffen, Ponoka County’s manager of agricultural services, the weed is coming across the county’s eastern boundaries. “It’s especially bad up around Red Deer Lake.”

If nothing is done about the weed Steffen fears it will spread across the county, excluding cultivated fields where it has problems getting established.

Absinthe wormwood affects livestock and taints milk. There are many dairy operations at the east end of the county.

“Right now we can tell people to clean it up but we don’t have any enforcing power,” said Steffen.

The bylaw will travel to the minister’s office for approval before coming back for final reading.