A few days ago, Ponoka Town Council faced their first real test. Unfortunately they failed — or at least four of them did. They were tasked with deciding whether the Ponoka fire department should go it alone or amalgamate with the county.
In spite of the fact that every one of our residents that spoke at the meeting strongly supported amalgamation, in spite of the fact that the Town’s own Economic Development Board — by definition, set up to be advisory to Council — were in favour of amalgamation, in spite of the fact that Mayor Rick Bonnet clearly indicated the cost there would be to Ponoka if we were to go alone, and in spite of the fact that regional fire departments are reportedly becoming the norm around Alberta, a move encouraged by the Provincial Government, in spite of all that, four of our councillors saw fit to reject the proposal, in favour of running — and paying for — our own, stand-alone fire department.
This is not good fiscal management. Rumour has it that at least some of the “no” vote was influenced by personal circumstances, not objective decision; I certainly hope this was not the case. Whatever the reason, Ponoka now has to find a way to run, and more importantly fund, their own fire services. I hope we’re ready for the cost.