Town council supports Ponoka Youth Centre

After initially turning down a request for financial help for the Ponoka Youth Centre (PYC), town council approved a further request.

After initially turning down a request for financial help for the Ponoka Youth Centre (PYC), town council approved a further request to help with utilities and swimming fees.

Council received a letter from the centre dated Jan. 28 during its regular meeting Tuesday, June 9 expressing disappointment the town was unable to provide financial help. The PYC originally asked for $13,000 in assistance.

The letter asked for support with a reduction of $2,200 in utility costs and $1,000 reduction in swimming fees and a $1,000 donation to a benevolent fund for families in need of help.

CAO Rachel Kunz said that while the budget is complete and there is no money set aside for other programs, there may be some options for in-kind help.

“They (PYC) do wonderful work. However, accepting this could have quite a few applications following,” said Kunz, referring to the benevolent fund request.

Coun. Loanna Gulka spoke in favour of the PYC and what it offers. “We’re supporting a group in our community that gives a lot,” said Gulka.

Coun. Carla Prediger said she supports the youth centre but requested an opportunity to see the group’s financials and how it is supported by other groups such as Ponoka Family and Community Support Services.

Mayor Rick Bonnett suggested that the work the PYC does for the community has many benefits. “They are providing programming that’s covering a lot of the youths for us,” said Bonnett.

Coun. Tim Falkiner agreed and suggested it is “no brainer” to reduce utility costs.

Council agreed to provide the reduction in utilities and swimming fees with in-kind grants of $3,300.

PYC had originally made this current request at council’s Feb. 10 regular meeting.

Council supports grant application

Town administration is hoping to take advantage of a federal grant program celebrating 150 years of Canadian history.

The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program is meant to bring funds to legacy projects that will have a lasting effect on a community and provides a 50/50 split in funds with a maximum grant of $500,000.

Administration hopes to put the money to aging playgrounds using a playground assessment report, which has not yet been made public.

Priorities for the grant are as follows:

• First: Central Park and West View playgrounds

• Second: Lucas Heights and Co-Op Park playgrounds

• Third: Lion’s Centennial Park Playground

There is $89,000 set aside for playground replacement and Kunz said they hope to find the rest from the Municipal Sustainable Initiative funding or from a general operating funds transfer in 2016.

If successful, the town will put $250,000 to replace the four highest priority playgrounds.

Coun. Loanna Gulka said she understands the Ponoka Elementary School playground committee is also applying for the grant, possibly creating a conflict, but Kunz feels it is worth applying for.

Prediger was curious about the recommendations in the study and Kunz replied that there is a need to replace some of the aging playgrounds.

“This is a good opportunity. We have nothing to lose,” Kunz added.

Funding is dependant on approval of grant applications.

Temporary organizational restructuring

With the retirement of Ted Dillon, fire chief and director of protective services for the Town of Ponoka, administration needs to make some organizational changes.

Kunz told council that Dillon’s official retirement date is set for Sept. 4 but the new fire chief is set to start at the beginning of July.

During that time the new fire chief would generally answer to Dillon, but he will be out of the office until his retirement date. Kunz said by default the new chief would then answer to her but she needed it to be officially in the books.

“The (new) fire chief will also answer directly to me,” said Kunz.

Bylaw officer Willie Jones, who usually answers to the director of protective services, will also answer to Kunz unless the organizational structure is permanently amended or a new director is hired.

Council supports Samson pow wow

Council requested a gift basket be provided to the Samson Cree Nation for their pow wow to be held Aug. 7 to 9.

Gulka made the motion after council received the letter from the pow wow committee.