Town council votes to scrap CAEP membership

Coun. Teri Underhill says membership will not help with new economic development projects

Town council voted to end its Central Alberta Economic Partnership (CAEP) membership during their meeting on Mar. 26.

The unanimously approved motion was necessary, since members must provide one year’s notice to terminate their membership.

Coun. Teri Underhill said it was recently discovered that the role of the roving economic development officer (EDO), originally thought to help the town develop economically, would not serve the current needs of the Town of Ponoka.

The $3,500 membership would not help with current economic initiatives, Underhill explained. Instead, it aids initiatives the CAEP is currently working on.

This became apparent last November when council and economic development board (EDB) members attended the CAEP annual general meeting, at which point, councillors learned the role of the roving EDO did not meet their expectations and would not help with any of Ponoka’s new or future initiatives.

Council also learned that the training, which the group said would put them in front of the government to get grant funding, would include a ‘significant cost,’ and still may not meet the needs of the town, added Underhill.

“Basically, the only thing they brought forward so far are these training programs that would cost about $13,000 for somebody from economic develop or council or administration to attend, and that’s not been allocated in the budget. It wouldn’t benefit us at this time,” she said.

“So what I am hearing is, we’ve got nothing and we’ll get nothing. That’s basically it?” said Coun. Ted Dillon.

Meanwhile, Coun. Kevin Ferguson explained he was not impressed with what the group would provide to the town, when he heard the presentation to renew the membership last year and felt renewing was a bad idea.

Late last year, council decided to renew its membership with the hopes it would provide the best approach to moving Ponoka ahead because the town had been without an EDO for nearly three years.

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