During their regular meeting in April 12, Ponoka County council voted unanimously to increase their annual contribution to STARS Air Ambulance to $20,000.
Glenda Farndon with STARS provideed an update to council. She advised that they receive over 32,000 requests for service each year with approximately 20 of those being within Ponoka County.
The estimated cost of those 20 requests was $140,000. STARS fielded approximately 200 links for the local hospitals. They had started a new initiative with Transport Physicians who took a shift in the emergency link center to coordinate between STARS and with the receiving hospital.
With one confirmed case of Avian flu in the county and Chronic Wasting Disease in the elk and deer operations, Coun. Doug Weir recommended that a conversation be held with the Right to Farm group to encourage the proper spacing of confined feeding operations to ensure that outbreaks did not affect multiple operations.
Highway 771 and Parkland Beach Road
Council was presented with cost estimates for the intersection treatments at Highway 53 and Block Road and Highway 771 and Parkland Beach Road.
Rohi Engineering estimated $783,935 for the type II design standard required by Alberta Transportation for the Highway 771 and Parkland Beach Road.
The estimate was high but could be constructed by county crews for about one-half of the estimated price.
The estimate for the Block Road, Highway 53 intersection was $904,253 as it would need to be widened from Block Road back to Highway 815.
Discussion ensued concerning recuperation of the cost to construct these types of intersections. Density of development and traffic counts had been considered for the intersections.
The intersection of Highway 53 and Block Road was not a requirement at this time but would be for further developments on the Block Road.
Alberta Transportation would allow additional development on the Parkland Beach Road if the county committed in writing to complete the work prior to the end of 2023.
It was noted that even though the provincial government received 60 per cent of the revenue from property taxes, they did not feel it was their responsibility to assist with gaining tax revenue by ensuring adequate and safe access to subdivisions.
Council voted to proceed with a type II intersection at the junction of Highway 771 and Parkland Beach Road, with Ponoka County providing the construction work.
Construction of Highway 604 was discussed and administration advised that Alberta Transportation was not considering reconstruction/paving of this road in the near future. The bridge is to be replaced in 2022.
Drainage of wetlands
Weir expressed concern about the drainage of wetlands on Range Road 264, Range Road 270 and Township Road 442.
Chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth advised that unless it affects the county directly, Alberta Environment would not consider the council’s objections.
It was suggested that administration correspond with the Minister of Alberta Environment regarding the lack of response to county concerns regarding drainage and replacement of wetlands, and that the county use a drone to prove that landowners are draining wetlands.
The Ponoka Ag Events Centre Society had met with ROHI Engineering and Alberta Environment regarding the wetlands on the Berg property.
Alberta Environment will charge PAECS $42,000 to remove six acres of wetlands for a parking lot. PAECS proposed to designate this funding to Ponoka County for reclamation work.
Coun. Nancy Hartford advised that the Town of Rimbey had been approved for placement of three physicians through the RESIDE program.
It was noted that there were currently 80 medical students awaiting a placement for their practicum, however, the College of Physicians and Surgeons would not agree to place the interns.
Coun. Mark Matejka reported that the North Red Deer River Water Services Commission had received $7.6 million from the province without explanation.
The funds could potentially be used to extend the water line to Maskwacis.
Ponoka Family and Community Support Services has completed and passed its accreditation process.
Battle River Watershed Alliance
Carson Hvenegaard, engagement assistant, David Samm, general manager and Kandra Forbes, educational lead, from the Battle River Watershed Alliance attended the meeting.
Samm advised that the BRWA could help Ponoka County conserve water quality and quantity, balance economic, social and ecological priories, engage with citizens about watershed issues and solutions, create and respond to environmental regulations and plan for a healthy watershed.
Forbes advised that they had a few education programs that they took to the schools to make students aware of the importance of the watersheds. They also had programs for the local 4-H clubs.
Hvenegaard reported that they were working on the sustainability of watersheds. Land and water advisory groups were being established. Riparian restoration had occurred in Ponoka County.
They have stewardship programs and workshops and had accessed grant funding in order to provide these.
The BRWA will be hosting a riparian intactness assessment project workshop on May 6. They were funded mainly by the provincial snd federal governments with a smaller portion coming from the local governments involved.
They were able to get contributions from corporate entities. They suggested a $.50 per capital contribution for Ponoka County and requested that a member of council sit on their Land and Water Advisory committee.
The group also met with the Town of Ponoka later that day.
Rimoka COVID outbreak
Coun. Bryce Liddle advised that the Rimoka Foundation had seen a mild COVID outbreak again.
Ponoka Minor Ball
Council reviewed a request from the Ponoka Minor Ball Association for a contribution toward the cost of upgrading the Legion Ball Diamonds.
Cutforth also presented a verbal request from the Ponoka Lions Club to create a ball diamond at the Hamilton park area.
Matejka moved this request be denied at this time and that the group be encouraged to coordinate with other community organizations to ensure that there is no overlap in services. The motion carried unanimously.
Rimbey Ag Society
Cutforth advised that he had received a request from the Rimbey Ag Society for Ponoka County to authorize interest only payments on the society’s loan for the AgRim Centre.
A motion to accept interest only payments on the loan for six months carried unanimously.