With 2018 behind us, Ponoka’s Mayor Rick Bonnett looks to his council and the New Year.
The biggest development for 2018 was the construction of the new town hall that houses the Ponoka Jubilee Library and the Campus Alberta Central Classrooms.
“The building is now complete and we’re moved in and we’re still working a few bugs out,” said Bonnett.
Council’s first official meeting in council chambers was Dec. 11 and now that operations seem to be working smoothly, an open house is planned for this month.
“The building is a good addition for our staff, for the library and for the college which will be getting up and running,” he added.
The new building is a controversial topic in Ponoka with some opponents stating the long-term lease of the building is a money pit for the community.
“Of course there are people who are going to hate what we do, people who like what we do and that’s the nature of the business,” said Bonnett.
He said the point of this building is to see growth. “We’ve got some progress. Council has really hit its stride this year,” he explained.
The development of the building changed the look of the five-acres, which had the aged and no longer used old Ponoka hospital. This spring and summer the park should be developed to beautify the area further.
Bonnett’s biggest concern for the current year is seeing a struggling oil industry, which is still in a slump. That issue is slowing growth dramatically in the province.
Despite these worries, Bonnett says council is ready to move. With three new council members about a year and three months into their four year term, the mayor says council is unified in its vision for Ponoka.
“The new councillors are forward thinking and looking to move the town forward,” said Bonnett.
Council tries to make the best decisions for the community, said Bonnett, based on the information it has. This is one reason council is pushing the province for funding for a field house, he added. The town is currently advocating to the province to use four years of the school property tax revenue to help pay for the proposed field house.
“Right now we’ve got some policies that are happening in the senior levels of government that are unfavourable to Alberta,” said Bonnett.
Despite being in an economic struggle, he also feels now is the best time to build a field house as construction costs are low.
On top of the move to the new building, Bonnett is pleased seeing the cost of the garbage contract — Can Pakdrop while also increasing the recycle and compost services to residents.
What’s really going to bring some uncertainty in 2019 are the expected provincial and federal elections.
“That’s going to be a game changer one way or another,” said Bonnett.
Regardless of the outcome provincially, he expects some change is going to come into being that will affect municipalities.
Ponoka News editor Jeffrey Heyden-Kaye is the chairperson of the Ponoka Jubilee Library