by DALE CORY / Black Press
There were numerous reasons — and little reason to question the motives. So, it came as no surprise when the motion received unanimous approval.
Ponoka County councilors gave the go-ahead at its Nov. 23 regular meeting for county officials to implement an addressing system for rural residents, something roughly half of the rural municipalities in Alberta have instigated in recent years.
“We felt it was a safety issue. By putting these signs up, our people who work for ambulance and fire services, when then they get a call, they can get the address and put it into the GPS, and they’ll get there without having to turn at this road, or look for this barn to turn at. It will be very precise and take them right to the gate,” said Reeve Gordon Svenningsen.
“Sometimes these people are travelling in the dark of night, and landmarks don’t show up. Maybe in the heat of the moment, somebody gives them the wrong address — and they turn left at a corner when they should have turned right.”
Svenningsen has a personal interest in the matter, considering his reliance on the fire department when he suffered a barn fire many years ago.
“When I called the fire department, they asked what direction I was, and I said, ‘Well, you just drive out and you’ll come to it.’ It was done in the heat of the moment,” says Svenningsen. “This will make our community safer, and that’s what we are trying to achieve.”
Ponoka County has spent about $90,000 to get the area mapped to include GPS coordinates. With the proper software, a resident could type their information into a computer, and their name and address would be made accessible to the proper authorities.
“We spent the money that way, and now we’re going to spend an additional $40 per sign for the 4,000 that we have. They will be able to get their sign and put it up. It seems to be a very popular thing across the country. You see these signs everywhere. It will give everyone a physical address.”
The mapping was part of the 2010 Ponoka County budget. The additional cost of purchasing the signs and posts will be included in its 2011 budget.
County considering Battle River valley plan
Also at the meeting, Ponoka County Council gave approval to an area structural plan for the Battle River valley.
“There’s great potential for country residential housing. All the lakes in the area are getting full of residences now, and a lot of people in the cities want to live close to a body of water. The river valley is very beautiful, and the potential for it is quite tremendous,” says Svenningsen.
“By developing the river valley, you’re not going to interfere with agricultural pursuits quite so much. If you want to have some space, and some beautiful scenery to look at without looking at another person’s house, then it’s ideal for it.”
Providing of course, that road and services can be put in without exorbitant costs to the person who wants to develop it.
Ponoka County Council passed a motion Nov. 23 to have West Central Planning Agency work on the south part of the Battle River valley. The expected cost is $10,000 for the study to be completed — money Svenningsen says is in the budget.
“We’ve done all of these sorts of developments around Gull Lake and other water bodies. In order to keep things consistent, it’s very important to have a structure plan, so that everyone abides by the same rules, and we don’t get different things in different places,” says Svenningsen. “Having an area structure plan will make it easier for developers.”