The Town of Ponoka is holding a public hearing on a proposed Downtown Action Plan for the town.
It relates to land use bylaw amendments, which implement parts of the proposed plan. The public hearing will be held August 8 at 7 p.m. at the Kinsmen Community Centre in Ponoka.
The purpose of the Downtown Action Plan is to guide the community and town in planning for future development and physical improvements downtown, as well as in efforts to attract increased tourism and customer patronage of the Downtown.
“Our ultimate goal is to create a vibrant community hub that will be a catalyst for future economic growth in Ponoka,” says Greg Braat, chairperson of the Heritage and Downtown Revitalization Committee (HDRC), which is also the Steering Committee for the Downtown Action Plan Project.
The HDRC is comprised of downtown Ponoka business owners and local residents.
The proposed Downtown Action Plan includes:
• An updated vision for downtown Ponoka.
• A series of suggested actions to encourage future growth, development and improvement of the Downtown.
• A recommended design for future streetscape improvements that can be implemented in phases over time as infrastructure replacement occurs. This includes features such as trees and landscaping, concrete patterns in the sidewalk, and street furniture.
• A plan for managing parking.
• A marketing strategy.
The proposed Land Use Bylaw amendments (Bylaw No. 387-17) include:
• Architectural guidelines for future development of buildings downtown.
• A heritage preservation overlay that identifies sites of historical interest and requires a review of the property prior to major changes.
• The removal of on-site parking requirements for non-residential development downtown, which recognizes the available supply of existing parking downtown and a desire to create a busier, more prosperous downtown.
Written or Verbal Comments Welcomed at Public Hearing
While the Municipal Government Act only legally requires a Public Hearing for the proposed Land Use Bylaw amendments, the town is also inviting citizens to provide comments and input – written or verbal – on any aspect of the proposed Downtown Action Plan at the Aug. 8 public hearing.
Written comments can also be submitted in advance at the Ponoka Town Offices until 4 p.m. on July 31.
“The downtown is a vital part of the community that belongs to everyone, so we want to ensure all citizens have the opportunity to add their voice throughout the planning process,” says Braat.
Area residents, businesses and downtown property owners have participated in the Downtown Action Plan over the past 10 months through a series of public open houses, an online survey, comment forms, review of materials on the project website www.DowntownPonoka.ca, presentations to community groups, and one-on-one discussions with project team members.
Public Input Reflected in Proposed Plan
“We’ve received many suggestions from local citizens throughout the planning process. Much of that input is reflected in the proposed Plan being presented to town council and the public at the upcoming public hearing,” says Tim Schmidt, Director of Planning for the Town of Ponoka and a member of the Downtown Action Plan project team.
“It’s important to remember this is a 25-year Plan that can be implemented gradually in accordance with priorities and available funding, including capital grant funding. And it’s a flexible Plan that can be changed to accommodate community needs without formally amending the Plan,” explains Schmidt.
To view the proposed Downtown Action Plan, related Land Use Bylaw amendments, a drive-thru video of the recommended streetscape improvements, and full details about the public hearing, please visit www.DowntownPonoka.ca.