Town council approved $12,000 to have a predesign plan created for the future of recreation at the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex.
The decision was made Tuesday, Nov. 10 during council’s regular meeting after hearing a request for decision by administration to accept McElhanney Consulting’s draft Recreation and Culture Master Plan.
There were six requests to council:Approve the plan;
Approve the relocation of the ball diamonds by the arena;
Plan for another $15,000 in the 2016 budget for a predesign report of a new town hall and arts and culture centre and plaza;
To have administration plan for $162,000 over the next two years for a schematic design of a community and activity centre at the current arena site;
To include $300,000 for the redevelopment of the two ball diamonds being moved from the arena site;
For council to plan for the implementation of the activity centre with several stages including construction to begin in 2019.
Coun. Loanna Gulka said that while she did not want to have another report sit on the shelf, she also wanted to review the 2016 budget numbers before making a decision. “From my perspective, I’d like to discuss this in the budget process.”
Wes Amendt, director of community services for the Town of Ponoka, suggested council did not have to make one decision over all the requests but could approve one, some or none. Mayor Rick Bonnett feels having the plan ready may be a benefit to the town should money come from provincial and federal grants. “We just need to be prepared for it,” he said.
Council approved the $12,000 request but did not make any other motions. Gulka was opposed to the request and Coun. Tim Falkiner was not in attendance.
Three residents spoke up at the public forum during the regular meeting, Amanda Henderson-Kada, executive director of the Ponoka Rising Sun Clubhouse, John Jacobs and Greg Nelson.
Henderson-Kada said she had yet to sign an agreement with the town on the blue box recycling work that the clubhouse members do. She was worried their work would no longer be needed considering GFL Environmental, the company hired by the town to take over the program, is expected to start in the new year.
“Right now, there’s been nothing in writing coming forward,” said Henderson-Kada.
She asked for a March or April start for her work because of the delay. No decisions were made at the public forum, however, council did approve the GFL contract on Sept. 21 on the condition that an agreement be made with the clubhouse. That is yet to occur.
For his part, Nelson’s concern was over spending within the town. He said he is one of the hard holdouts for the water meter and suggests council must consider its spending. “I think each and every one of you should start considering our budget.”
Jacobs also raised concerns over the spending at town hall. “During the last five years I’ve seen we’ve cut into our reserves by quite a bit.”
He raised concerns over the spending on the water meters, the North Bridge replacement and the borrowing needed to build the bridge. Bonnett offered that the reserves Jacobs referred to, the development fund, still had money saved and the money used for the water meters did not come from that fund.
47 Avenue improvements
Council approved a $30,000 reallocation to operations for the 47 Avenue storm drain project approved last year.
Dave McPhee, director of operations and property services, said the initial project was budgeted at $446,000 but the bids came in at $260,000. Seeing the project costs were low, planners extended the project, which eventually ended up $30,000 over. He said the entire project is estimated to take three years.
Tax forgiveness request
A bank error put a resident in an awkward position and late tax payment to the town, which resulted in penalties.
Seeing that the bank paid Ponoka County rather than the town, the resident requested the late fees of $201.29 be removed. Coun. Loanna Gulka wondered why the bank wasn’t paying the fee.
“It would be my suggestion that the bank should pay the penalties,” said Gulka.
Coun. Marc Yaworski disagreed saying the town should wave the penalty as it was a mistake, however, council denied reversal of the penalty but recommended the homeowner speak with the bank to pay the mistake. If there were still issues, council requested administration to bring it back for further consideration.