Town chief administrative officer (CAO) Sandra Lund and Andrew Jones, recreation director, updated Ponoka County council on the capital and operating improvements made to the recreation facilities within the town during council’s regular meeting on Nov. 15.
The town resurfaced the tennis and pickleball courts and added two new pickleball courts during the summer of 2022.
They had also upgraded the Aquaplex with new primary heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The existing HVAC system had also been upgraded.
A new 10-foot slide with corkscrew and flowing water was installed in the deep tank at the Aquaplex.
They had signed a new five-year agreement with the Black Elk Hockey camp which would ensure the arena was used through August each year.
New programs were being implemented to increase usership.
Their recreation facilities received a 92 per cent efficiency rating from a recent resident survey.
They would be adding the ability to utilize the arena all summer long through volleyball, drop-in curling/skating, etc.
The fees realized cover approximately 60 per cent of the costs.
It was suggested that alternate uses for the curling rink be considered for this space unless users increased.
The town’s 2023 capital project is a dog park across from the town hall.
The existing skate park would be expanded into the recycling area in 2024. No additional upgrades would be required to the arena for 10 years.
A capital injection into the Aquaplex in 2023 and 2024 would bring it up to date as well.
The need for additional ball diamonds and soccer fields was discussed. The soccer association was content with the number of fields but would appreciate some enhancements to the facilities.
Baseball has grown to include over 200 youth and the association was encountering a shortages of diamonds. The town currently operates six diamonds.
Ponoka Jubilee Library
Daniel Galway, manager of the Ponoka Jubilee Library, and Jeff Ramage, board chair, attended the meeting to request funding.
Ramage advised that the purpose of the library was community building.
Their funding comes from local government, provincial grants and operating grants. They had increased their staffing levels to meet the public demands which increased their costs.
In 2017, they had received an additional $15,000 from Ponoka County each year. With the additional services they provided came additional costs.
Galway explained they had completed a needs assessment that showed 64 per cent of patrons visit the library once a week.
The library does not wish to cut salaries, as they want to keep the staff they have now. Their current wage is average for central Alberta.
Their operating reserve had been reduced to meet needs once they moved into the new space. They didn’t want to deplete the reserves further to meet their daily operating costs.
They had asked the Town of Ponoka for $15,000 and would like $10,000 from the county.
The town had agreed to provide $7,000 which left a total budget deficit of $18,000. They would need to reduce their FTE by 0.5 people and subsequently their level of service without the full $25,000.
Cutforth pointed out that Ponoka County had contributed $60,000 to the library for 2022.
Council voted to consider the extra funding request during their 2023 budget deliberations.
Agriculture to Country Residential
Ponoka County council voted unanimously to rezone 15 acres of the SE 16-43-25-W4 from Agricultural District to Country Residential district following a public hearing.
Alberta Transportation advised they had no objection to the proposal as it would have no negative impact on Highway 2A.
The Town of Ponoka provided no concerns.
The rezoning application was made by Lee and Shannon Kocyba.
Doug Robinson, adjacent landowner, expressed concern with potential groundwater concerns in the area. There is an intensive livestock operation one mile north of this site that was using a lot of water.
He questioned if anyone was monitoring the groundwater in the area.
CAO Charlie Cutforth advised there were a number of water studies completed for this area, but an application for three subdivisions on this property would require a new water study to ensure adequate water supply.
Concern was expressed that the NRCB was not monitoring water usage at confined feeding operations.
Cutforth suggested Robinson do a baseline test to prove his current water supply.
Rezoning to Prime Location Commercial
A hearing was also heard to consider concerns and objections to the proposal of Davinder Sehrai to rezone 22 acres of the NW 12-44-26-W4 from Agricultural District to Prime Location Commercial district to accommodate future commercial development of the property.
Cutforth noted the property was included in the Menaik Overpass-Highway 2 Area Structure Plan (ASP) for future development, however, no traffic impact assessment had been undertaken on the west side of the intersection.
Alberta Transportation advised that a comprehensive traffic impact assessment would be required at development stage for this rezoning application.
Coun. Doug Weir had received concerns from a ratepayer who wondered why development was allowed on the west side of the intersection when the area structure plan had focused on the east side.
It was noted that this intersection was fully included in the ASP. There would be limited development on the front three to five acres due to the diamond configuration required by Alberta Transportation for the interchange.
There were no further comments or concerns and council gave third and final reading to the bylaw.
Rimbey AgRim Centre
Administration approved a contribution to the Rimbey AgRim Centre toward their bid to host the Wildrose Amateur Rodeo.
The Town of Rimbey had suggested that they may be willing to share the cost of the bid. Council agreed the financial situation of the centre should be reviewed prior to budget deliberations.
Coun. Mark Matejka noted that there would be a substantial increase in membership fees to the Red Deer River Water Commission in 2023. Management fees have increased 60 per cent.
Crime Watch chapters
Coun. Nancy Hartford advised that the local Crime Watch chapters in Clearwater, Medicine River and Rimbey were closed or closing.
Weir reported that a manager had not been hired for the Ponoka Ag Events Centre yet.
RMA long service pins
Reeve Paul McLauchlin presented each councillor with their nine-year municipal service pin from the Rural Municipalities of Alberta and a 45-year municipal service pin to Cutforth.
Update dog control
A bylaw updating the dog control bylaw was passed unanimously by council.
RCMP quarterly reports
Council reviewed the quarterly updates from the Ponoka and Rimbey RCMP for the third quarter of 2022.