Ponoka County councilors voted unanimously to lobby the provincial government for reimbursement for volunteer firefighters’ time spent waiting for ambulances to arrive at the scene of an emergency.
Ambulance service availability was discussed at their regular meeting on February 8th.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Charlie Cutforth said the issue of ambulance availability was becoming a major concern for members of the Regional Fire Service. In 2021, there were 18 times the fire department was first to respond to a call and had to wait a long time for an ambulance to show up.
Medical transfers usually took a long time. Recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters became increasingly difficult as expectations for ambulance call assistance increased.
Cutforth recommended that Ponoka County urge rural municipalities in Alberta to lobby the government to pay for the time volunteer firefighters spend on ambulance calls as first responders. Failing this, a class action should be initiated by the municipalities for reimbursement.
It was proposed by the con. Nancy Hartford that the Ponoka County Council lobby the Provincial Minister of Health for payment for the time the volunteer firefighters spend as first responders waiting for ambulances, and that all council members sign the letter. The motion is adopted unanimously.
East Lincoln Properties
A settlement to reclassify East Lincoln properties (Pt. NE 5-42-27-W4) – approximately 13 acres – from agricultural district to country residential district, was rejected.
The required public hearing had taken place on January 25 and the first and second readings of the regulations had been passed.
Cutforth noted that in general, an area in a farming community does not negatively impact surrounding operations.
A third and final reading was given on February 8 but was defeated with one vote in favor and four against.
Hartford said Rimbey Family and Community Support Services is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year by offering the first 40 free coffees each week at different locations in Rimbey.
Hartford attended the Synergy Alberta/Rimbey Synergy meeting where Alberta Energy Regulator Directive 088 was discussed.
Com. Doug Weir said the Ponoka Agricultural Event Center Society voted not to rent to a group wanting to hold a rally.
They had expressed concern that a rally could have negative effects on the funding received from the government and the council wished to remain neutral. Insurance rates could also have been affected by the rally’s clearance.
Solar and wind energy
Com. Bryce Liddle attended the Central Alberta Rural Municipalities meeting on February 4, virtually.
Wind and solar energy were discussed. It was confirmed that these were taxable structures and were treated the same as linear valuation and machinery and equipment valuation.
The Alberta Utilities Commission has the authority to approve the development of “green power” projects, regardless of county planning documents.
Ponoka County was trying to direct such projects to brownfields. The administration has suggested the projects be treated as industrial sites with public hearings etc., due to a number of issues that may arise.
Deputy CAO Peter Hall confirmed that any application would be treated as a discretionary permit where notification could be extended to ensure all were aware of the potential impacts.
sergeant. Erin St-Cyr (Operations NCO) and Cpl. Mike Dillon attended the meeting to present the Ponoka RCMP Detachment Q4 2021 report.
St-Cyr noted the following downward trends over the past five years: crimes against persons; motor vehicle theft; theft under $5,000; foolishness; drugs and breaking and entering.
They were getting more and more requests for wellness checkups.
They spent much of their time verifying non-compliance with the conditions imposed by the judicial system.
Judicial reform would help to combat recidivism.
They had only received 14 COVID-related complaints with no charges laid.
When assisting emergency medical technicians, only mentally ill youth were taking time off as they needed to be transferred to Red Deer. Centennial Center peace officers were available for adult transfers.
They congratulated participants in recent convoys for their respect. The only issue that caused concern was the horns.
The role of the RCMP was to get the convoy safely out of town onto the highway. The convoys will continue and get organized.
The RCMP will continue to monitor and manage convoys.
On loan from the Rimbey AgRim Center
The Council received notice from ATB Financial that Rimbey Ag Society had approached them for a fixed rate on the AgRim loan. The loan was granted for a period of three years with the county as guarantor.
The Board discussed the loan payment made on behalf of the Ponoka Ag Event Center Society. It was agreed that the president of the company be invited to the board meeting on March 8 to present his financial statements.