Ponoka County has deferred any decision on a donation request to help with some recreation improvements.
Representatives from the Rimbey Christian School appeared at council’s meeting on March 20 to see if there was any appetite to help them with a pair of upcoming projects — a gymnasium for the school and upgrades to the outdoor rink, the soccer field and playground that are available for public use, as well as expanding the parking lot to the rink.
Harold Grinde, chair of the school’s board, explained the society that operates the school was finally convinced recently that the school could handle this large of a project.
“We have long had the desire to build a gymnasium. About four months ago, we received an anonymous $250,000 donation specific to that project,” he said.
“So, the society approved moving ahead.”
The school has also gotten an offer to purchase from the Gull Lake Deer Creek Gas Co-op some land next to their property for future expansion, which has also provided more funding for the overall project.
Two other factors pushing forward the project are the joint-use agreement the school has with the Town of Rimbey and the lack of available capacity at the only full-size gym in the community.
“The Rimbey High School gym is booked all of the time, to the point where practices are being held at 6:30 a.m., and the community centre is no longer allowing ball sports there,” he said.
“So, it was felt we should revamp our entire sports infrastructure. Our outdoor facilities are very actively used by the entire community and the intention is to have the gym arranged for as much community use as possible, much like our outdoor facilities.”
The plan is to have the new gym built onto the north side of the school, expand the current parking lot, move the rink closer to that parking lot, move and improve the playground, plus level many other areas of the site so a new soccer field can be built. Until that time, the gas Co-op will allow the school to continue using the property it is buying.
Grinde added the new rink will be 75 feet by 150 feet with a concrete slab, new boards and LED lights courtesy of an $8,000 donation.
“We want to do it right and a lot of the work on this project will be done with volunteer labour. We are also working with Eagle Builders on engineered drawings for the gym as well as using Dolman Construction,” he said.
“We are simply looking for any assistance from the county. We have not began formal fundraising as this is not a great time.”
The project’s estimated cost is around $800,000 with the school already having just over half that amount in the bank. The hope is to kick start work as soon as the frost is out of the ground as site preparation will be simpler as no one will have to work around the kids with school being closed.
“We want to move as fast as we can. We hope to have the rink done by September and the gym at least sealed to the weather this fall,” he said.
Following the presentation, council briefly discussed dedicating $30,000 to the rink portion similar to what was done for the Crestomere project a few years ago. However, council left that on the table until the county has a better handle on what community donation funds will be available later this year considering the changing climate at the moment.
In light of the present coronavirus situation, council moved some of its regular business to the March 20 audit and budget meeting and cancelled the meeting slated for March 24.
Council also approved the temporary closure to the public of the county office beginning March 23. All office personnel will continue to do their work. Anyone needing information, permits or anything else are urged to use the Ponoka County app — available for Apple and Android — or to contact the office at 403-783-3333.
Additionally, council discussed and directed administration to examine options for holding meetings electronically, while maintaining public access and participation as outlined in the Municipal Government Act.
Reeve Paul McLauchlin says the county will be talking to the province about more practical and efficient ways for municipalities to accommodate the public while also adhering to social distancing recommendations at meetings.