Ponoka County council voted to provide 25 per cent of the cost to purchase the fibre internet line from Morningside to Red Deer Lake during their regular meeting on April 11.
Council reviewed the request from Missing Link Internet for the county to provide $915,253 as the purchase price of a portion of the fibre internet line in order to access federal funding.
Recovery of the funds was secure based on the infrastructure installed.
Council discussed the Red Deer County proposal to create a Municipally Controlled Corporation to install the fibre backbone versus allowing Missing Link to install the line and purchase it back over a 15-year period.
Coun. Doug Weir suggested that the term be reduced to eight years.
Council decided the 15-year term would allow them to connect households and start to see a return on their investment.
Weir questioned which account the money would be provided from and whether there would be interest charged until the funds are repaid.
Chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth noted that the interest not being charged would be the county’s investment into providing internet service to its residents.
In the event of the sale of the line, Ponoka County would be paid out immediately. If the line was subject to sale prior to full repayment, the county could consider charging a premium for early payout.
Council voted to provide the requested funding, based on an agreement for sale to Missing Link of the county portion of the line for $915,253 within 15 years of completion of the line.
Mill rate amendment
Council passed third and final reading of Bylaw 6-23-MR regarding a mill rate amendment.
Administration had received information regarding the Designated Industrial Properties assessment from Alberta Municipal Affairs which would require that the mill rate be amended.
This bylaw rescinds Bylaw 5-23-MR. 091/23.
Wolfville Road re-construction
Cutforth advised three of the landowners on the Wolfville Road had refused to sign right-of-way agreements for re-construction for $5,000 per acre.
He questioned if there was another project that council wished to consider for construction or re-construction. Suggestions would be sent to administration.
Solar project open house
Coun. Bryce Liddle had attended the open house for the solar project proposed for north of Ponoka.
He expressed concern with how the project was presented. He felt there was an insinuation that Ponoka County was aware of the project and supportive of it. That was corrected at the open house.
The county said serious concerns had been evident from those in attendance regarding covering good agricultural land with solar panels.
Ponoka doctor recruitment and retention
As a member of the Ponoka Doctor’s Recruitment and Retention committee, Liddle advised there is progress with getting rural doctors, however, placements were being impeded by the College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Medicine River Watershed
Coun. Nancy Hartford attended a Medicine River Watershed meeting recently where the issue of Prussian carp in the river was discussed. The group was experimenting with tiger trout as a means to kill the carp.
Suffield solar project
Hartford said the solar project at Suffield was only providing 24 per cent of the energy required.
Pieter Broere and James Carpenter, chairman of Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP), attended the meeting.
Broere was the county’s appointed business representative to CAEP with Hartford acting as the municipal representative.
Broere had attended a number of meetings on behalf of the county.
Carpenter stated his passion for small town Alberta and said that Ponoka could be promoted for economic growth and development.
Growth would come from value added and technology in agriculture.
He promoted development with less risk, better investment and government support.
Carpenter said Ponoka County’s participation in CAEP was very important.
He advised they had recently hired Tracy Gartner as the new executive director, starting on May 1.
CAEP had received confirmation from the provincial government of a $150,000 grant to study the feasibility of Howse Pass.
The First Nations in the area were on board with the project.
The Infrastructure Bank has looked favourably on the project, but wanted confirmation from the B.C. government that this would be acceptable.
The road would ideally be led and owned by the First Nations.
Cutforth advised that development within Ponoka County was being hindered by government putting costs back on the municipality for their highway development.
Carpenter suggested council invite Minister Dreeshen to a meeting to discuss road development and funding for same.
Weir advised that the accountants for the Rimoka Foundation had presented their recent audit report.
The foundation was in a good position other than a small deficit from previous years.
Ponoka FCSS had been asked if they would take on Wetaskiwin County’s Home Care contract.
Rimbey FCSS has been asked to take on Bentley’s Home Care contact. Both FCSS’s were considering the possibility of these ventures.