Good news for seniors, bad news for funding for bridge program

For Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin, Premier Jim Prentice’s talk at the AAMDC convention held last week in Edmonton was a mix

For Ponoka County Reeve Paul McLauchlin, Premier Jim Prentice’s talk at the AAMDC convention held last week in Edmonton was a mix of good news and bad news.

McLauchlin said he was pleased to hear the premier announce that the government has earmarked $40 million a year for the next five years to go towards enhancing seniors’ safety.

“That is good news,” he said. “It sounds like they are making a bigger commitment than which was originally announced. They will assess all the lodges presently to determine priorities and needs,” he said.

However, Prentice also delivered some bad news during his presentation which will have a huge impact on Ponoka County.

“The bridge program will no longer be funded,” said McLauchlin, adding the government is not going to eliminate the program, but it will no longer be funded.

The Reeve said that is definitely not good news for the county which has 220 bridges within its jurisdiction, 160 of which may need to be replaced within the next 10 years.

“That means the funding will have to come right out of our own pockets and it is funding that we didn’t anticipate spending on bridges.”

McLauchlin said the premier gave the low price of oil as the driving force behind the government’s shrinking funds.

The AAMDC is an excellent opportunity for meeting with other county representatives throughout the province, said McLauchlin.

This year, the county invited two Ponoka town councillors to attend the convention and last year two Rimbey town councillors attended.

McLauchlin said inviting the urban counterparts has proved to be a popular concept and one that may be adopted by other counties.