In the next 10 to 30 years, recreation enhancements in Ponoka could be bringing facilities closer to 50 Street near Hamilton’s IGA.
Designer Gary Debney of McElhanney Consulting took some time Tuesday, Sept. 15 during a committee of the whole meeting to explain conceptual designs that would see major changes to where recreation, municipal and cultural buildings would sit in the Town of Ponoka.
Rather than a campus-style setup, as was originally proposed at a recreation community workshop in June, Debney’s concepts would use land where the town’s recycle station sits along the skate park and where the Kinsmen Community Centre and Drop-in Centre are.
While the plan is a switch from what was previously proposed, Debney said it was the information residents provided in a recent map survey that helped with the new concepts.
The trouble was being able to fit several buildings in the proposed area without losing others. So in a draft concept plan, Debney suggested removing the drop-in centre to allow for a larger facility, which would also house drop-in centre activities.
Debney said the land behind the centre is large enough to house these new facilities if the existing ones are removed and meet the needs for keeping activity in the downtown area.
He also proposes demolishing the Kinsmen Community Centre to build a large recreation building, which would be multi-use with a community gymnasium and hall lumped into one. A new town hall, arts and culture centre would be built across the street where the recycle centre sits.
There was some discussion about having a new RCMP detachment built in the same space but Mayor Rick Bonnett did not feel RCMP planners would agree to that.
The conceptual plan also sees an addition to the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex and a repurposing of the old arena space into a field house, pool, indoor soccer arena or for other uses.
He feels a well-laid plan at the arena with stadium seating and a comprehensive sound system could also rejuvenate the minor hockey program. “That’s the economic driver from that youth side,” said Debney.
As for the swimming pool, which has been stated as having three to five years of usability left, Debney suggests a leisure pool for families and a more narrow pool.
“I’m going the other way and saying you should have four lanes and rent a pool (for swim meets),” said Debney.
Coun. Teri Underhill did not fully buy-in to the idea, stating concern that moms would have a challenge dropping kids off at the arena and the facilities proposed near 50 Street.
Debney suggests having the buildings close together, would make things easier for families, rather than more difficult. As the town owns much of the land by the current Town Hall, he suggests there is even more potential for further facility development.
While no decisions were made at the meeting, Debney is eager to hear further feedback from residents during a community open house on Tuesday, Sept. 29 at the Kinsmen Community Centre at 6:30 p.m.