Mayor Rick Bonnett of Ponoka is disappointed in the provincial government. They are looking to build a community wellness centre that he believes will not only be good for current residents but also for future residents and businesses’.
They were hoping to receive funding from the government through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program but were told to use the Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant funding program. As told by Mayor Bonnett, that funding comes from Ponoka’s property taxes, so that money is meant for upkeep and maintaining roadwork.
“We use that money for roads and sewers, and that money is not enough to take care of a municipality in the first place, but it’s our regular money,” says Bonnett.
The project would cost about 20 million after it’s all said and done and he says they have already dumped money into the initial start-up.
“We’re extremely frustrated because the province was willing to give $700 million to Calgary for the winter Olympics but they’re not willing to give us $4.5 million.”
Mayor Bonnett says he’s talked with Stettler’s mayor and he also feels like the money isn’t being distributed properly.
“Cities like Calgary and Edmonton continually get bigger dollars for a lot of different projects and it seems like the smaller communities such as Ponoka, Lacombe and Stettler we don’t seem to get the same vision in that.”
He says he’s mostly frustrated because he is trying to put growth in the community and having to fight with the Alberta government is just stalling that process.
“We look at it as an economic development because when businesses’ come to our town they ask us what is there for our employees to do when they are not working.”
But he has a plan to stand up to them, and he hopes that will give them a pull ahead.