A decision to stay a member of the regional economic partnership may soon help Ponoka’s Economic Development Board with plans and projects that might see downtown not see as many empty storefronts. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Ponoka hoping to move forward on economic development

Town to maintain membership and get more out of regional economic development partnership

More of an effort to use available resources for economic development will be made by the Town of Ponoka.

That is essentially what the outcome is from a pair of motions passed at town council’s Oct. 23 meeting, based upon recommendations from the town’s economic development board (EDB).

The approval means that Ponoka will remain a full member of the Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) group as well as allowing one EDB board member plus a town councillor to attend CAEP’s general meeting.

Coun. Carla Prediger brought forward the two recommendations, which would provide the EDB access to CAEP’s roving economic development officer (EDO) as well as other support.

Meanwhile Coun. Teri Underhill noted the board believes it will provide the best approach to moving Ponoka ahead.

“The EDB feels strongly that there needs to be some kind of representation with respect to an EDO to help guide them,” Underhill explained.

“(The EDB) is doing an economic development strategy down the road. I think it is imperative that council supports the economic development board as they have gone two years without an economic development officer and have done the best they can.”

Underhill added the EDB feels some of the projects that have been looked at in the past have fallen through mostly because of the lack of ability to get research and other work completed due to not having access to an EDO.

Membership costs the town about $6,000 annually while CAEP’s roving EDO is provided to specific projects at a significantly reduced expense when compared to salaried full time staff or contractors.

Mayor Rick Bonnett was away for vacation so Underhill chaired the meeting.

Other business

Acceptance of an updated snow removal policy was delayed until Nov. 13 as Prediger felt all aspects of the policy, including a map outlining snowplow priorities, should be completed correctly prior to council approval being given.

In addition, council approved moving forward as a partner in a grant application that will help with the development of joint use and planning agreements with Alberta school boards.

Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development, explained the application is to support a project that will create a process for small urban and rural municipalities to follow when generating these type of agreements, which are expected to become necessary next year with the agreements to be in place by 2022.

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