Town proposes post-secondary education centre for Ponoka

Letter from council aimed at advocating for Campus Alberta Central partnership

A proposal submitted to Ponoka Town Council for the old hospital building on 50 Street may bring the decrepit structure back to life in more ways than one.

The building has been sitting idle for many years after the official closure of the hospital and has been a topic of discussion for both residents and non-residents of the area.

Town council approved during a special meeting Thursday, April 21 a letter of intent signed by Mayor Rick Bonnett to work with Campus Alberta Central and the building’s owner, Erick Schmidt, on ways to develop the building.

The letter of intent is aimed at creating discussion with residents and potential partners in the development, CAO Alberta Flootman told council. Also in the non-binding letter, the town expresses readiness to work with Landrex, a commercial and residential real estate developer and with Red Deer College, which is part of Campus Alberta Central.

“The vision is for a community centre,” said Flootman.

The building is on the northerly portion of the Town of Ponoka’s downtown core and Flootman suggests there is potential to accommodate a new town hall and a post-secondary learning facility in the building. While the letter of intent does not hold the town to any guarantees, it does allow for discussion and for public consultation.

“It must be understood that public consultation will be essential to the success of this project, and land use and development requirements are to be met,” states the letter.

“It’s a proposal that addresses some key community needs,” explained Flootman.

If the proposal is successful, the area will be under P3 classification, a public/private partnership, which would allow for residential development. The land would be owned by a private developer and the town and other tenants would lease from the company. This is not a new idea for the property as Schmidt has been working on developing the land for residential apartments since 2014.

Mayor Rick Bonnett said he is excited about the potential of the project as it has been under the works for some time.

Council voted unanimously in favor of the project. Councillors Tim Falkiner and Sandra Lyon were not in attendance.