The town’s new plan to support local businesses, the Business Retention and Attraction Program, has two parts: a new business grant policy and a commercial new build incentive.
Town council approved the plan during its regular meeting on Dec. 8.
The new business grant will be available to businesses that have not operated within town before and have a 2021 business license or are exempt from having a license.
Businesses can apply from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2021.
The funding given out will vary on the business license type and will be based on a first come, first served basis until the funding is used up.
A budget of $20,000 funded from development reserves has been allotted.
The commercial new build incentive will be available by application for commercial zoned land to build or demolish and build and receive an incentive applied to their municipal property taxes for the next three years.
Those who qualify would receive a 75 per cent reduction of their property taxes in the first year, 50 per cent the second year and 25 per cent the third year.
The application will be open from Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2022.
Town council passed second and third reading of a new utility rate schedule bylaw .
It was determined through budget deliberations that the flat rates for water, sewer and garbage will increase by one percent. As of Jan. 1, 2021, the rate for water will increase from $2.11 to $2.12 per cubic metre and the sanitary sewer commodity charge will increase from $0.70 to $0.72 per cubic metre.
Mask bylaw moot
Discussion of a mandatory mask bylaw was on the Dec. 8 agenda, but it struck at the beginning of the meeting, as the provincial announcement earlier that evening mandating masks in all public places voided the need for a local bylaw.
Airport board bylaw repealed
The Ponoka Industrial Airport Development Board bylaw was repealed as it is no longer relevant to town operations after the town completed the sale of the airport to the Ponoka Flying Club in September, 2020.
The town will be acknowledging all former members for their contributions in some way.
Using funds received from the provincial and federal governments, the town approved donations of $10,000 to the Ponoka Food Bank, $2,500 to the Ponoka Mat Program and $2,500 to Santa’s Anonymous.
The funding is from the Municipal Operating Support Transfer (MOST) and is intended to assist municipalities with the costs of responding to the COVID-19 crisis and the costs of restarting local economies.
The funds could be used for costs related to COVID-19 such as personal protective equipment (PPE) or additional cleaning measures, or for additional supports for vulnerable populations.
MOST funding can only be used for costs or losses incurred between April 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. Any used funds have to be returned to the Government of Alberta.
The town has received $737,000 from the MOST program. To date, administration estimates current and future COVID-19 expenses and operating losses at $650,000, leaving an estimated balance of $87,000.
Festival of Trees
During their regular meeting on Nov. 24, town council approved a sponsorship of $3,500 to the ‘Un-festival of Trees’ to the Ponoka District and Health Foundation.