EDITORIAL: Movement afoot in downtown Ponoka

Things are moving in downtown Ponoka and it’s good to see, in this week’s editorial

Have you been to downtown Ponoka recently?

While there are still a smattering of empty buildings, there’s also this quiet, yet deliberate change that seems to be occurring; boutique shops are popping up all over the place.

Once-empty buildings are now filled with the warm light of entrepreneurs and businesspeople having a go with their specialty skills and wares. Maybe they’ve seen that things are moving in our community?

The Town of Ponoka is in the midst of creating this incredible document related to downtown Ponoka’s future development. It’s quite simply, about time. The proposed changes in this plan will help set the stage for a more beautiful downtown.

It’s no simple piece of paper. This 58-page document outlines the future of Ponoka’s downtown and will be a benefit to businesses. It’s something that’s taken years to create.

For whatever reason past administrations and councils did nothing with past studies, however, current planners took these documents, and with the help of the Downtown Heritage and Revitalization Committee, brought about something that is worth reading and being proud of. Residents were included in this process.

These little boutique businesses are just the start of something that could be a turnaround for Ponoka.

There also happens to be a development on the north end of downtown Ponoka. You know the one, the old hospital. These are pieces to a puzzle that seems to have eluded Ponoka and past leaders for many years.

With a downtown action plan that affects future development and infrastructure improvements, which ensures continuity and aesthetically pleasing streetscapes, and a new learning centre and town hall, Ponoka’s downtown is on the verge of a change in our present reality.

Maybe the idea of development was just too unknown to our past leaders. Or possibly the reality of the costs were too scary. Or maybe they had no vision?

It doesn’t matter. Those days are behind us.

Town planners must be commended for putting together this document. The plan was to have it complete in 10 months. It’s on track to meet that deadline and on budget and is an impressive read.

Our next council will be able to use this document and help drive growth in Ponoka (candidates would do well to study it, just saying).

Despite a few setbacks of thunderstorms hindering one open house, planners still managed to garner feedback and to speak to concerns when they arose.

There was no hiding behind brick walls or bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. This group embraced any strong feedback to the proposed changes and spoke directly to those concerns.

That says they want to hear from residents. It says that there is no bad feedback, only information that will help for the future of Ponoka. This is more of a resident driven project than many in recent years.

Ponokans should be proud of helping set the direction of this document. Administration’s and council’s support has also helped the process, not hinder it. Another point for administration.

Despite struggles in other aspects, this document shows that the town is really moving forward and administration is embracing this change.

Things are looking up Ponoka, don’t forget to be part of the experience.

Check out www.downtownponoka.ca for more details and information.

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