Borrowing Bylaw 461-21 for Downtown Redevelopment of 51 Avenue

Ponoka Town Council has approved first reading of a Borrowing Bylaw 461-21 to fund the downtown redevelopment and revitalization of 51 Avenue between 50 Street and 51 Street.

The capital project improvements planned for 51 Avenue will replace aging infrastructure that has reached the end of its lifecycle. 

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions below for full details:

The capital project improvements planned for 51 Avenue will replace aging infrastructure that has reached the end of its lifecycle. The improvements will include:

  • Replacing underground water, sanitary sewer and stormwater infrastructure;
  • Repaving 51 Avenue, and replacing and upgrading sidewalks;
  • Rehabilitation and design improvements to the municipal parking lot on the south side of 51 Avenue;
  • Beautifying the streetscape with landscaping (trees, shrubs and flowers), new lighting and street furniture;
  • Repainting crosswalks and lines; and
  • Installing wayfinding signage.

The redevelopment of 51 Avenue is a priority project that will improve the quality of life for the whole community, as it will result in important physical improvements that will help revitalize the downtown. The planned improvements will also help prevent future water main breaks and sanitary sewage issues for businesses along that street. The project is a critical capital project to promote economic development in our community and attract new businesses, shoppers and tourism to Ponoka.

The 51 Avenue redevelopment project also aligns with Council’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan, as well as the Town’s Downtown Action Plan, Municipal Development Plan, Transportation Master Plan and Urban Framework Master Plan.

To begin the planning process and to ensure funding is in place to carry out the project, Council has given first reading to the Borrowing Bylaw 461-21, which would authorize the Town to borrow $1.7 million to fund the redevelopment of 51 Avenue.

The 51 Avenue project was originally planned for 2021; however, due to challenges around the supply and availability of materials and cost increases over the past months, Council decided to postpone the project until 2022 when the project will be retendered and presented for Council consideration during final budget deliberations in the spring. The current cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 million, of which $1.5 million is to be funded through provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative grant funding.

The Town will be sharing a 3D video in the new year that shows a detailed conceptual design for the 51 Avenue project, and we will be inviting public feedback on that design before beginning work on the project. That will happen after the Town has completed the tendering process and pending Council approval to move forward with the project following final budget deliberations in the spring.

Even though Council has approved first reading of the Borrowing Bylaw 461-21, passing the Bylaw doesn’t mean the Town will go ahead with the 51 Avenue redevelopment project in 2022 or the borrowing of funds. Those decisions will be made by Council during final deliberations of the 2022 Town Budget in the early spring of 2022.

The Town is required by legislation to have the Borrowing Bylaw in place before Administration can issue a new call for tenders on the project in January. Once those tenders are received, Council will decide based on actual project costs for 2022 whether the project will go ahead next year.

It’s also possible during budget deliberations that alternative sources of funding could be identified for this project, which could result in borrowing less money or not borrowing any funds at all. The Town of Ponoka will not know until budget deliberations are completed, but is required to have the Borrowing Bylaw in place so that if Council does decide to go ahead with the project and needs a debenture to help fund it, construction can begin in the spring to ensure the project can be completed in 2022.

According to the Municipal Government Act, every proposed bylaw must have three distinct and separate readings. The three separate readings give Town Council opportunity to carefully consider all details of the bylaw and make any necessary changes to the bylaw before it’s passed.

  • First reading is to bring the bylaw to the table and introduce it to Town Council.
  • Second reading is when Town Council can debate the bylaw, make amendments and vote on whether to proceed to third reading.
  • Third reading is a final discussion during which Town Council considers any final amendments to the bylaw and votes on whether to approve it. 

All bylaws must be read (only the title or identifying number is read out loud) and adopted in a meeting that is open to the public. Amendments can be made to a bylaw during the second or third readings. If a bylaw does not receive third and final reading, the bylaw is defeated and will not proceed.

Council is scheduled to consider second and third reading of the Borrowing Bylaw 461-21 on December 14 at its regular meeting.

Under the Municipal Government Act, municipalities can borrow up to 1.5 times their annual revenue. Based on the Town’s 2020 audited financial statements, the Town of Ponoka has $12.9 million of total available debt capacity. The 51 Avenue redevelopment project is well within the Town’s current debt capacity. The Borrowing Bylaw would enable the Town to borrow the funds for this project over a 30-year term at an estimated 3.564 per cent interest rate and annual payments of $92,718.

A copy of the proposed Borrowing Bylaw 461-21 can be viewed here under Latest News or at the Town Office (#200, 5604 50 Street, Ponoka) during regular office hours from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, except statutory holidays.

Residents may submit a petition with respect to calling for a vote of electors to determine whether the proposed bylaw should be passed. The petition must meet the formal requirements of Sections 221-266 and 231 of the Municipal Government Act.

The petition can be filed with the Chief Administrative Officer by December 9, 2021 (within 15 days after the last date that the proposed bylaw was advertised). Any petition will be public information. If residents have any questions regarding the petition process, please contact Legislative Services at 403-783-4431.