Ponoka County passes 2023 mill rates

March 28 council meeting briefs

(Stock image)

(Stock image)

Ponoka County council passed a bylaw during their regular meeting on March 28 to establish 2023 mill rates.

The rates are as follows:

General municipal:

– Residential, 1.95;

– Farmland 5.995;

– Non-residential, 10.82;

– Small business, 8.12;

– Linear, 10.82 and

– Machinery and equipment, 10.82.

ASFF requisition

– Residential and farmland, 2.309;

– Non-residential, 3.5311 and

– Linear, 3.5311.

The bylaw passed third and final reading unanimously.

Commercial account cancellation

Coun. Mark Matejka moved that council cancel the portion of the municipal tax on commercial accounts as recommended by administration, in the amount of $67,396.92.

Public hearing

The first reading of a bylaw to allow Anika Pierik and Marten Kleinlugtenbeld to lease a portion of the road allowance lying west of the SW 7-43-26-W4 passed following a public hearing.

The applicants were in attendance as well as an adjacent landowner.

The bylaw would allow the applicants to lease about 125 metres of RR 270 north of the Fertile Forest school property in order to protect it.

The applicants had advised that it was being used to deposit litter and wished to stop this practice. There were no further comments or concerns.

The bylaw will be forwarded to the Minister of Transportation for approval prior to second and third reading.


Warren Bloomquist spoke about the need to reconstruct Highway 53 east of Highway 815 to meet the needs of the wide farming equipment and the high load corridor traffic.

He was encouraged to talk to Alberta Transportation to request an overlay or widening.

Cutforth appreciation

Rose Vanderploeg recognized chief administrative officer (CAO) Charlie Cutforth for his years of dedication to the county ratepayers and wished him well on his upcoming retirement.

Low-level crossing update

Don Snyder questioned if there was an update for the status of the low-level crossing replacement. The NavCanada pre-work notification was posted and potentially the government would provide 75 per cent funding.

Missing Link Internet

Craig Bondy with Missing Link Internet requested council’s consideration to provide a re-payable grant of $913,000 to provide fibre line from Morningside to Red Deer Lake.

Cutforth inquired if Missing Link had considered the option of being the Internet Service Provider (ISP) with the counties installing and owning the fibre line as proposed by Red Deer County.

Bondy pointed out that the cost to the county would be higher than his to install the network. He suggested that at some point the establishment of a Municipally Controlled Corporation (MCC) would sell the network due to the cost of maintenance.

He had no intention of selling Missing Link as they had to own the network for five years to be eligible for the grant. There was no profit if you didn’t own the entire network and provide the actual service.

Missing Link would be installing fibre from Bluffton to Viewmar Estates, within the Town of Rimbey and the south end of Gull Lake in 2023.

Missing Link has 107 towers that they own and operate.

Reeve Pail McLauchlin expressed concern that Missing Link used an unlicensed frequency which was an unmitigated risk. He suggested that the capital buy-back agreement should only be eight years since it’s public money and this will become a private entity.

Bondy noted that they had already paid back one network within three years.

The CRTC Broadband Grant application is due in May. The grant would provide 75 per cent federal funding, 25 per cent county funding, with Missing Link providing the final mile to residences.

PAECS update

Coun. Doug Weir provided the monthly financial statement for the Ponoka Ag Events Centre Society for Council’s information and advised that they had hired Aneta Fabianova as their new general manager.

Solar and wind farm developments

Kurt Bloomquist questioned council’s position on solar and wind farms taking productive farmland out of production.

McLauchlin advised that Ponoka County has no authority to stop or prevent these installations as the Alberta Utilities Commission (AUC) is the approving authority.

The local municipalities would be conducting studies to determine the best locations for these sites. If the applicants would decrease the density of the applications, the soil quality could be maintained.

The premier had agreed that this type of project needed to be reviewed with a view to protecting and preserving good farmland.

Currently, no funds are being set aside for reclamation of the sites once obsolete, whereas the United States was requiring a $10,000 per year bond.

The county had not been advised by the AUC of the solar project proposed for north of the Town of Ponoka.

The AUC had many other opportunities such as solar panels on roof tops in the cities, rather than using arable land.

The solar farm in Medicine Hat has been discontinued as it was no longer viable.

Oil/gas industry

Warren Bloomquist noted that surface lease agreements were not being negotiated fairly and clean-up of orphan wells was not occurring.

Chris Scott suggested that Ponoka County seemed to have common sense and should be the leader in forcing the change.

Cutforth noted that Ponoka County has no influence with government other than through the Rural Municipalities Association (RMA).

Assistant CAO Peter Hall concurred that Ponoka County would continue to use common sense in dealing with landowners, ratepayers and municipal issues.

AltaLink line removal

Don Snyder questioned the reclamation following removal of the transmission line south of Ponoka and was advised that this would need to be done by AltaLink.

RMA convention

Council concurred that the recent RMA convention was very beneficial and had seen some of the government’s arms-length organizations being questioned on their current practices

Rural Crime Watch

Coun. Bryce Liddle advised that the Ponoka RCMP was attempting to revitalize the local Rural Crime Watch.

AER report

McLauchlin noted the Auditor General had issued its report on the Alberta Energy Regulator and described them as a “captive regulator” working for the company rather than the public.

Right to Farm meeting

Cutforth advised that he would be attending and speaking at an upcoming Right to Farm meeting.

Ponoka County