The Calnash Ag Event Centre. (File photo)

The Calnash Ag Event Centre. (File photo)

Ponoka Ag Events Centre Society asks Ponoka County for continued support

Ponoka County March 8 council briefs

Ponoka Ag Events Centre Society (PAECS) came before Ponoka County council on March 8 to ask the county to consider continuing its operational funding support of the Calnash Ag Event Centre.

Blake Taylor (president), Dennis Pugh (manager), Rick Cline (treasurer) and Terry Jones (past president) of PAECS presented to council.

Taylor noted that the agricultural recreation opportunities offered by the Ag Event Centre need to be promoted. The facilities are used by the local 4-H clubs, the High School Rodeo and the Ponoka Broncs football team on a regular basis.

They had over 100 people registered for barn walking this winter and had hosted a Fitness Alberta event.

The board has re-written their by laws to consider future generations and have purchased the Berg land for future expansion.

The board was hopeful that the Canadian Professional Rodeo Hall of Fame would continue to be housed at the Ag Events Centre. They receive a subsidized rental amount annually.

The centre is now fully booked but attendance may be affected by the high cost of fuel, they said.

The county recently withdrew its financial support for the Rimbey AgRim Centre and the monthly payment for the manager position.

The question had arisen whether or not the county should be continuing to support PAECS on a monthly basis and to what extent the other partners are financially supporting the centre. Taylor advised that PAECS was using the county’s donation to lower the rate charged to local organizations.

PAECS had removed over $1 million of the $1.8 million loan guarantee as an act of good faith (now $675,000). They still need the county’s monthly contributions until they got back to normal following the COVID restrictions.

The facility will need to expand in order to attract larger events, including expansion of the stalls, more parking, camping next to the river and an outdoor riding arena, said PAECS.

The following are brief items of interest from Ponoka County council’s regular meeting on March 8.

Financial audit

Tim Rowland and Justin Ronnie from Rowland Parker and Associates attended the meeting to present the 2021 audited financial statement. Also in attendance was Kelly Sperber, Ponoka County financial controller.

Rowland pointed out that:

• Actual cash surplus for 2021 was $138,630.

• Expenditures were under-budget due to supply shortages for capital items.

• Donations had been over-expended due to contributions to the Rimbey Library, Rimbey Raceway, Ponoka Stampede and Parkland Beach marina projects.

• Provision was being considered by the provincial government to allow municipalities to place liens on oil/gas facilities for unpaid taxes.

A motion from Coun. Doug Weir that $138,630 be moved from unrestricted surplus into restricted surplus carried unanimously.

Ponoka Youth Centre

Executive director Beth Reitz and seven youth and adults, on behalf of the Ponoka Youth Centre and the Boys and Girls Club of Ponoka, attended the meeting.

The centre continued to provide services throughout the pandemic even though their numbers had been reduced due to capacity restrictions.

They had seen an increase in issues for the teens due to the pandemic.

They had run out of room for the Rimbey programs and had approached MLA Jason Nixon for support to use the Rimbey Community Centre at a reduced rate as it was currently sitting empty.

Reitz requested that the county issue a letter of support for their use of the community centre.

They were providing 60 to 80 meals every day to youth in Ponoka.

Reitz requested that Ponoka County provide $40,000 to the Ponoka Youth Centre and the Boys and Girls Clubs as in previous years.

RCMP meetings

Council discussed attendance at the local RCMP meetings and noted that the Town wants County representation on the Police Advisory Committee. Active participation in this Committee has not been sanctioned by Council but any Councillor who wished to attend as an observer was welcome to attend. The County was already getting quarterly updates from the RCMP.

Boat launches

Lacombe County was now charging $20 per day fee for use of their boat launches. This action may have a direct impact on Ponoka County’s boat launches.

Rimbey FCSS accreditation

Coun. Nancy Hartford advised that the Rimbey Family and Community Support Services has been very busy preparing for accreditation in April.

Burton Road

Chief administrative officer Charlie Cutforth had been approached to consider naming a local road after Harvey Burton, the road construction foreman who had recently passed away.

A motion to rename Township Road 425 between Highway 771 and Range Road 11A be named as “Burton Road” passed unanimously.

Ponoka County