The Ponoka Civic Centre. (Facebook/Town of Ponoka)

The Ponoka Civic Centre. (Facebook/Town of Ponoka)

Town of Ponoka approves borrowing bylaw to buy civic centre

Briefs from the Sept. 13 regular council meeting

Ponoka town council passed second and third reading of a borrowing bylaw on Sept. 13, enabling them to move forward with purchasing the Ponoka Civic Centre.

The bylaw allows the town to borrow up to $10 million with a payment timeline to not exceed 40 years.

Coun. Teri Underhill asked if the appraisal of the building, which would determine the sale price, would take into account of the current economy.

“I want to move forward but I don’t want to pay more than I have to,” she said.

Underhill further asked if there was any reason the town couldn’t delay purchasing the building if the borrowing bylaw was passed.

Angie Schumacher, corporate services, said it would be up to council’s discretion if they wanted to wait longer or reduce the amount of the debenture.

The current annual cost of the town’s lease payments on the building are $700,000. This amount is expected to cover the cost of the debt repayment.

The town estimates an annual cost of $591,710 over 40 years to pay off the debt.

Final reading passed unanimously.

The bylaw will be considered valid if no application has been made to the Court of King’s Bench. Should no application be received within that time frame, the town will then submit a loan application to the Province of Alberta for the amount required to purchase the building by the end of 2022.

Public forum

Downtown Ponoka business owner Ken Robinson appeared before council to ask if a parking time limit could be implemented for Chipman Avenue.

Robinson said there are currently 22 businesses operating on that street and only 23 parking stalls, so when people park there for several hours, or overnight, it creates an issue.

He suggested installing one-hour parking signs. Although he said some businesses have clients with appointments requiring more than one hour, he said enforcement could be done with that in mind.

Robinson was thanked for his presentation.

Chamber awards

Town council approved a $1,000 donation to the Ponoka and District Chamber of Commerce towards its business awards. The sponsorship was made in recognition of businesses’ struggles with COVID-19 over the past two years.

New community peace officer

Wesley Allison, a resident of Ponoka for 16 years, officially started with the Town of Ponoka on June 27.

He worked as an Alberta sheriff for six-and-a-half years in Red Deer and as a community peace officer for Camrose County for the past 10 years.

Allison said since he started his new position he’s been working on partnerships with other enforcement agencies, and with Ponoka County Regional Fire Services with community for calls for services, and with health inspectors on squatting issues.

He was also involved in emergency planning for both the Ponoka Stampede and the papal visit and he has dealt with bylaw-related complaints.

Wastewater treatment facility

Council voted unanimously to re-allocate $110,000 from the Aquaplex upgrades project to the wastewater treatment facility planning and analysis project.

As the remaining work on the Aqualpex is mainly beautification and remains low-priority, it was decided to funds were needed more for research into ensuring the long-term sustainability of the wastewater treatment facility.

Underhill said council’s onus and responsibility was to leave the lagoon functioning for the future, and though the cost for research feels tough, they had to do their due diligence.

Mayor Ferguson added that in the 21st century, keeping up with federal and provincial environmental regulations isn’t something municipalities can get around or hide from.

51 Avenue development

Andrew Jones, manager of Parks, Recreation and Facilities, said extreme rain events and a total of 24 classified rain days since the project began at the end of May caused significant delays in the re-construction of 51 Avenue.

While Jones was unable to estimate a completion date, he said crews would continue working as long as they could.

Coun. Cal David said he’d spoken to business owners who hadn’t received communication from the town regarding the progress of the project and it was suggested names be supplied to Jones for follow up.

David also asked the town to consider some kind of remuneration to the businesses along the street in acknowledgment of the difficulties the project presents to them.

Town of Ponoka