Construction on Ponoka’s new town hall and Community Learning Centre are on track.
The footings and foundation are in place and the service connections and preparatory work for the parking lot completed on the building expected to cost around $9 million.
The three-storey building will house a new town hall, council chambers and lease spaces on the top two floors and is expected to be completed next summer.
A new and larger 7,000-square-foot Ponoka Jubilee Library will go on the ground floor, which will also house a 5,000-square-foot learning centre operated by Campus Alberta Central.
The campus is a joint venture between Red Deer College and Olds College that provides post-secondary learning in 21 different communities.
Exterior walls for the building are under construction at Eagle Builders’ Blackfalds shop. The insulated concrete wall sections are expected to arrive next month and will take about three weeks to install.
Ponoka has been without a town hall since the fall of 2015, when a litany of health issues were discovered.
The 1960s-era building was plagued with high carbon dioxide levels, airborne and basement mould, ventilation problems and asbestos in the air distribution system.
It was so bad that Alberta Occupational Health and Safety ordered that council chambers and the basement be off limits to staff and visitors.
Ponoka Mayor Rick Bonnett and his council are looking forward to having a new home. They have been making do by holding council meetings in the Kinsmen Recreation Centre, hardly an ideal setup.
“It’s making it very tough for council to do their business and be able to juggle things around,” he said. “As a mayor, packing things all over the place kind of makes it crazy once in while.”
A former elementary school has been housing some of the town staff but only about 20 per cent can be accommodated.
At first, the town plans to lease the new building for about $590,000 a year. Under an agreement with the developer, Landrex Inc., the town can lease the building for five years with an option to renew.
Once the building is complete, council will make a decision on how long to lease before buying the building.
“We have the right to purchase it right after it’s built,” said Bonnett. “We did say we wanted to do the lease for possibly up to two years. Depending on council’s decision, we could lease it for longer.”
Also under construction on the same site is a 5,000-square-foot care home being built by Lacombe Action Group for the Handicapped.
Bonnett said the development, along with a new medical centre in town, will provide an economic boost for the community in 2018.