Proposed changes to the land-use bylaw where the old hospital sits had residents raise a few concerns.
The biggest concern appears to be over access to parcel C on the site — the southeast corner — which would see vehicles accessing the property from the alleyway north of 56 Street.
During the public hearing June 13, related to proposed amendments to the land-use bylaw, Jack Surbey voiced some concern that if access was from the alley, his adjacent properties would drop in value. “It’s going to make the alleyway kind of busy I think.”
Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development confirmed that access is indeed through the alley but Mayor Rick Bonnett suggested that a change to the proposal could be considered. “There’s obviously an issue with C parcel access.”
Schmidt added the proposal for parcel C is for residential or office building with a maximum height of three stories.
Speaking in favour of the bylaw was Erik Schmidt, whose non-profit company owns the property. “I’m just delighted this project has come to stage.”
He said the whole purpose behind taking over the old hospital was to see something happen in the Town of Ponoka and finally with this new development with Landrex, that can happen.
Resident Ula Thompson recommended the town own the property and she voiced some concern about the location of the building. She suggests it is too far from the downtown core.
The current property sits on the north end of the town’s designated downtown. “The (Ponoka Jubilee) Library is in a good location right now,” added Thompson.
There was one question regarding the agreement between the town and Campus Alberta Central (CAC) — a joint venture with Red Deer College and Olds College. The group has indicated a desire to be in Ponoka.
CAO Albert Flootman said that CAC is close to signing an agreement with the town. “It’s just a matter of details at this point,” said Flootman.
He added that the proposal shows CAC signing on for a five-year lease with a five year renewal option.
“They have to use provincial funds to fund this program,” explained Flootman. “We fully expect the program to be successful.”
“The board of directors of CAC has also formally approved entering into a lease,” he said, adding that CAC is eager to see the project move forward.
As for the $1.3 million set aside for tenant improvements, Flootman told the gallery of about 30 people that estimates can’t be shared as those improvements will go to a bidding process.
Another question related to the library space and its current state of affairs. Coun. Teri Underhill said the Ponoka Jubilee Library’s space is not ideal for the programming in place. “They have wanted a new library since I got on council.”
There was also some concern over the project cost with some suggestions that the town could use an old building. Mayor Rick Bonnett feels this new development is positive for the long-term. “If we don’t continue to do economic development, we will go from 7,000 (residents) to 4,000,” said Bonnett.
Resident Bruce Clarke spoke in favour of the project. He is pleased that council is, “Doing something to bring a state-of-the-art facility to this town.”
“Let’s move forward…it’s going to bring many other assets to this town that we haven’t had for many years here,” said Clarke.
Last week’s edition of Ponoka News stated the town would have the option to buy land for $1. This actually refers to the proposed one-acre park on the old hospital lands, which is to be transferred to the town upon subdivision approval. The parcel of land on which the learning centre is to be located would be available to the town through the option to purchase agreement with Landrex. This states that the purchase price of the learning centre land and building would be based on fair market value and determined by taking the average of two independent appraisals. We apologize for the error.