For the Town of Ponoka, the No. 1 priority is supporting Ponoka and area residents to live a healthy, joyful lifestyle, in whatever activity people are doing.
“It’s all about promoting a healthy lifestyle. Our goal is creating opportunities and operating facilities that get people out there,” says Town of Ponoka director of community services, Wes Amendt.
For Ponoka, a winner of the 2017 Communities ChooseWell Creating Supportive Environments Award, the main focus is creating more opportunities for people of all ages to enjoy a healthy, active lifestyle.
To this end, the town is planning a new addition to its existing recreation complex and arena, which currently includes a curling rink, two ice surfaces and two racquetball courts. Council has approved a preliminary design for a new community wellness centre, which would include the addition of a field house, indoor walking track, multi-purpose rooms and indoor playground.
“We hope this will become a community hub for health and wellness activities,” Amendt says, noting that the enhanced community wellness centre will benefit not only the town, but also the County of Ponoka and neighboring municipalities, and will act as a focal point in moving Ponoka forward.
“Having that facility allows for year-round use, and places for people to gather and be active,” he explains.
The town hosts a variety of recreational events, with its recreational amenities all located within a block of one another. The sport of pickleball has grown dramatically over the last couple of years, “which has been a real boon to our tennis courts, which now have much higher usage.”
Ponoka creates supportive environments in a variety of ways, including through programming. Last summer, for example, the town hosted its first Trail Awareness Day Geocaching Event on Ponoka’s river valley trail system, organized by the Ponoka Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee to celebrate National Trails Day.
Each winter, the town partners with the Ponoka Community Golf Club to set cross-country ski trails on the golf course. The town, which now has its own track setting equipment, can also set ski trails in the river valley along the regular trail system, conditions permitting.
The town makes fun activities a highlight at special events throughout the year, such as Family Day (with skating, shinny, a bonfire and hay rides), Canada Day and Ponoka Day in the Park.
And for the second year in a row, Ponoka is taking part in the Walk ‘n’ Roll Challenge – a friendly competition with nearby towns that encourages people to walk, cycle or rollerblade to do errands, instead of taking their vehicle. Stettler won last year’s Walk ‘n’ Roll Challenge, with just over 10,000 tracked outings from May until the end of August, compared to Ponoka’s approximately 7,000 tracked outings. “It was a tremendous response for our first year,” says Amendt. This year, he hopes that Ponoka’s participation will increase, with Ponoka going toe-to-toe with both Stettler and the Town of Wainwright.
“Ponoka is a healthy and vibrant community, and continues to strive to do even more,” Amendt says.