The next steps in developing a plan for a community learning centre at the old hospital site are taking shape.
Town council shared their eagerness to see the plan come together after CAO Albert Flootman expressed a need to create a memorandum of understanding with the developer, Landrex. He explained the need Tuesday, June 28 during the regular meeting of council stating that Campus Alberta Central is also eager to see this project move forward.
Also working with the town is Eagle Builders, said Flootman. The company is putting in its own time and money to develop a preliminary layout to help with the planning.
Flootman said the goal is to design a functional, yet workable space. “This is about making sure that the flow of the building is right,” he explained.
He added that some money will be put into the design work to ensure an ideal layout.
A memorandum of understanding would help planners and the town through the process with a final deadline of Oct. 31, said Flootman. He suggests 60 days is needed to make an informed decision after that time.
Because the town has development authority with direct control in the area, there is a potential for conflict of interest if another project is proposed for the area by another potential stakeholder. Flootman says planners are in the process of ensuring this does not become an issue.
“We need to be clear that the town’s involvement will not fetter the approval process,” said Flootman.
Councillors showed their support and willingness to work with Landrex. Coun. Marc Yaworski asked if Landrex agrees with the timelines. Flootman suggested this time frame was created to allow council to make a proper, informed decision while still meeting Landrex timelines.
“We may have to call special meetings to expedite the process,” added Coun. Loanna Gulka.
There was some debate about leaving the decision making timeline to be up for negotiation with Landrex to allow for a quicker turnaround.
“My desire is for council to make the decision with complete information,” offered Flootman.
Regardless of whether council changes the deadline for a decision to 60 days or sooner, his goal is that all the information needed is available.
Mayor Rick Bonnett is pleased with this development. “The property has been an eyesore for years.”
He added that having a councillor sit in on the planning meetings may help when explaining how the plans are moving forward, to which Flootman agreed. Council asked Coun. Sandra Lyon to sit in on the meetings due to her experience with land deals and real estate markets.
Council voted to negotiate the decision timeline but approved the request to move forward with a memorandum of understanding.
Council is supporting two golf tournaments this year to benefit local causes.
The first tournament is the third annual Lacoka Golf Challenge set for Aug. 16 at the Wolf Creek Golf Resort.
The tournament pits Lacombe and Ponoka Rotary Clubs in a fundraising challenge with a split of 60/40 with the winners taking the higher number. The town supported the project last year. The request was to support the tournament with two teams at a total of $1,000 plus $150 to sponsor a hole.
Mayor Rick Bonnett suggested they are worthy causes but worries about having enough people to support two teams.
Coun. Loanna Gulka praised the fundraising effort but is worried about spending too much money. “I’m finding this very difficult.”
“It is a lot of money to be sponsoring teams,” she added.
Council voted to support the fundraiser but with one team at $500 plus the hole sponsor of $150.
The other golf fundraiser the town supported is the Lacoka Female (hockey league) Golf Tournament.
A request to support the tournament with two teams at a total of $880 was made with Gulka again raising concerns about the expense.
Coun. Tim Falkiner, who is also a coach with the Lacoka program, suggested this is not a large number. “$880 is not a large amount. We fritter away money at this council table regularly.”
He added that the money will benefit a female youth hockey program, which is worth considering.
Bonnett suggested that the real challenge is in finding enough people to play but Falkiner suggested the hockey players could create a team.
Falkiner’s original request to approve the original motion was defeated. However, a second motion was made to sponsor one team at $440 plus another $400 as sponsorship of the event.
Festival of Trees support
The town will once again support the Ponoka Festival of Trees with $3,500 from the economic development advertising budget.
The town supported the event in 2014 with a $2,500 donation and in 2015 with $3,500 for the Breakfast with Santa.