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Town moves forward with airport plans

Town council approved a new plan that will set the stage for future development of the Ponoka Industrial Airport.

Town council approved a new plan that will set the stage for future development of the Ponoka Industrial Airport.

The decision came during their regular meeting Nov. 25 after hearing from MMM Group consultant Philip Van Manen. He provided councillors with three proposed options that will help the company with its business plan for the airport.

The first option sees small expansion of the taxiway at the north end of the airport and provisions for lots to house larger wing span planes. “Let’s call it a twin engine.”

“The first option is more or less status quo,” said Van Manen.

He said the airport does not really have the ability to support larger planes.

The second option is almost the same with some added discretionary land and proposes moving the taxiway slightly to allow for larger lots.

The final option, adopted as recommended by Van Manen and a working group — consisting of town and county employees, administration, MMM Group, the Ponoka airport Commission and Ponoka Flying Club — will allow for larger lots.

“We allow for the opportunity for the parallel taxiway,” said Van Manen.

This would allow larger aircraft to operate at the airport, he said.

He feels the Ponoka airport has strong potential to sell lots as research of similar airports shows a need to sell space.

Coun. Loanna Gulka asked who would be responsible for the costs. “Is the Town of Ponoka going to be expected to pay for this alone?”

Van Manen replied there is little provincial money for capital projects such as this, but he added that if the town sells land on the airport for expansion, there may be funds from there. He says a fuel surcharge is another way to help with budgeting.

MMM Group is now putting together a business plan and a governance model for the airport for the Dec. 16 town council session.

Council split on realtor for the town

Town councillors are still split on contracting work to a realtor.

Coun. Sandra Lyon recused herself from the meeting to allow the rest of council to discuss the recommendation that they approve Kelly Jones, of Coldwell Banker Ontrack Realty, as the town’s agent.

Coun. Teri Underhill stated she does not believe Jones, based out of Red Deer, to be qualified for the position but Coun. Tim Falkiner disagreed. He feels council should support administration’s recommendation.

“Mr. Jones is the realtor of choice for our staff,” he said.

Coun. Carla Prediger wondered if the two realtors — Tyler Fessler, of First Choice Realty, was the other agent who applied to be the town’s contracted realtor — would be able to work together but Stephen Novak, economic development officer for the Town of Ponoka, said that is not an option.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said he was not in favour of the recommendation because Jones does not live in Ponoka. “I’m trying to say shop local as much as possible.”

Fessler has sold town land before, added Gulka and she also did not favour the recommendation.

Councillors Prediger, Falkiner and Yaworski voted in favour of the decision while Bonnett, Underhill and Gulka voted against it.

The Town of Ponoka’s procedural bylaw states if there is a tie vote, decisions are defeated.

The first request for a decision came Sept. 22.

Budget deliberations

For the first time in many years budget deliberations are open to the public.

Deliberations will be held Dec. 8 and 9 starting at 8:30 a.m.

Economic Development Board governance

Town council approved the proposed amendments to Economic Development Board bylaw with little discussion, after seeing recommended changes from its Nov. 12 meeting.

Council also approved appointments of Andrew Middleton and Ashley Plamondon to the board for a term of one year starting Nov. 25 to Oct. 31, 2015.

Town Hall holiday hours

Council approved holiday hours for Town Hall:

• Wednesday Dec. 24, closed at noon

• Dec. 25, closed

• Monday, Dec. 29 to 30, regular business hours

• Wednesday, Dec. 31, closed at noon

• Jan. 1, closed

Council also approved a holiday gift to town staff in lieu of a Christmas party.

“It’s long overdue. I think it’s great that we’re starting to recognize the staff that we have,” stated Coun. Falkiner. “Especially during the holiday season.”