Town of Ponoka elaborates on decision to purchase civic centre

Funds would be obtained through a debenture

The Town of Ponoka voted to exercise its option to purchase the Ponoka Civic Centre at its last council meeting in 2019, and provided some answers about how it will go about doing that.

According to town communications manager Sandra Smith, the town is currently planning what the process of purchasing the civic centre will look like, but it will start with providing notice to the building owner of the town’s intention to exercise its option to purchase.

Property appraisals, a sale agreement, a borrowing bylaw and a debenture will all be required as part of the process, says Smith.

The funds to purchase the building would be acquired through a debenture — a long-term loan with a fixed interest rate — from the provincial government.

Municipalities are required to do long-term financing of five years or more through the Alberta Capital Finance Authority (which will soon be absorbed by the Treasury Board).

“Purchasing the building is expected to reduce the Town’s annual expenditure on the building (as) the town expects to be able to borrow funds to purchase the building at a lower cost than a commercial lease rate,” said Smith.

As the planning stage has just begun, no hard numbers are available yet for cost comparison.

The town’s website states that council originally chose to lease space in the Ponoka Civic Centre, rather than construct its own building on town-owned land because, “Town council believes the town’s involvement as a tenant in the Ponoka Civic Centre is an important investment in future economic growth and development in Ponoka.”

It further states that there has already been further development on the five-acre site, including the care home for or individuals with developmental disabilities.

Council discussed purchasing the civic building during it’s budget deliberations in Nov. 2019. At the time, only mayor Rick Bonnett voted against the idea.

A written statement from Bonnett was provided to Ponoka News on Jan. 27.

Bonnett says he doesn’t have a problem with council wanting to purchase the building, but he chose to vote against the motion as a way to signify to the developer, Landrex, that he is interested in keeping them engaged in doing business in Ponoka.

“When we have a developer that is currently very interested in investing in and developing properties in Ponoka, especially in today’s economic environment, I felt it was important to send a signal to that developer that we appreciate their interest in Ponoka and want to continue supporting their efforts to invest in Ponoka,” said Bonnett.

Bonnett referenced the empty lot next door to the Ponoka Civic Centre, saying Landrex is actively marketing lease space in a building it wants to develop on that empty lot which would primarily focus on medical services and appears to be close to moving ahead with that development.

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