Ponoka County won’t be on the hook for much as the airport takes on a new management structure.
Council got more details at its March 10 meeting from CAO Charlie Cutforth and operations manager Peter Hall, who had a meeting earlier this month with one member of the non-profit board that will be running the airport once the deal is completed with the Town of Ponoka.
Cutforth explained a seven-member board will oversee the airport’s operation and confirmed the land is registered as a private subdivision, allaying concerns expressed by council at its last meeting.
“The only requests of the county are that we provide our grader for their main road when it is working on the nearby county road as well as look at upgrading that road sometime in the future,” he said.
“The indication is they are looking at proceeding with selling lots and that there is no expectation of the county to do any kind of maintenance on the runway.”
Coun. Mark Matejka expressed a concern about the plan to extend the runway and the affect the setbacks will have on surrounding landowners.
“The issue I see will be if they move ahead with that plan, it will restrict other landowners in the area in the same way that took place with CFOs (confined feeding operations). Are we going to allow it? Using other people’s land for their purposes?” said Matejka.
Cutforth stated the extension is not a given, but that it is just in their plans. He added that consent from affected landowners would obviously be necessary in that case, assuming that all of the proper approvals were granted.
A recommendation was given that the group come before council once their business plan is complete.
“That will give council an opportunity to ask any questions,” Hall said.
“They seem to be approaching this in a very positive manner and have put a lot of thought into this. They also look to have funding in place for the operation.”
Council passed first reading of a rezoning bylaw for the Deere Park development near Gull Lake by a 3-2 vote. Reeve Paul McLauchlin and Coun. Matejka were opposed.
Cutforth explained the motion was necessary to further the developers action to get a court to dissolve the current condo association and make the development a private subdivision.
“The court needed something more definitive than council agreeing to consider an application,” he said.
“We don’t need to proceed with the application yet, since if the court doesn’t order dissolution then the rezoning makes no sense. This motion simply triggers a public hearing, which won’t take place until after a court ruling, but it gives them an idea that the county is prepared to consider the application.”
Cutforth added there are concerns about the property regardless of what the court rules.
This includes the need for restrictive covenants to give parameters for the development so it doesn’t become another RV campground and the need for a second access to the development for emergencies.
“If it remains as a condo association, the chances are greater that it will become a campground,” said Cutforth.
Development in the county is off slightly from the same period in 2019. Currently, there have been 14 development permit applications — compared to 16 last year — to go alongside six rezoning applications (compared to four last year) and three subdivision applications (seven last year). This has been attributed to a slower economy in the province.
Council also approved its Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework deal with Lacombe County, passed its contract renewal with the Wild Rose Assessment Agency and approved providing the CTRC with letters of endorsement for all of the rural Internet service applications that have been sent in by the three companies servicing Ponoka County.