|Town of Ponoka|
|— Town —|
|- Mayor||Larry Henkelman|
|- Governing body||Ponoka Town Council|
|- Total||13.05 km2 (5 sq mi)|
|Elevation||805 m (2,641 ft)|
|- Density||504.1/km2 (1,305.6/sq mi)|
|Time zone||MST (UTC-7)|
|Postal code span||T4J 1E4|
|Website||Town of Ponoka|
Ponoka (pronounced /pəˈnoʊkə/) is a town in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is situated in the south/central parkland region of rolling hills. Industries are agriculture (grain and cattle production), and oil and gas production. Ponoka is located at the junction of Highway 2A and Highway 53, 59 kilometres (37 mi) north of the city of Red Deer and 95 kilometres (59 mi) south of Edmonton.
The name Ponoka is Blackfoot for "elk"; the town flag depicts an elk.
Ponoka was founded on the land north of Fort Ostell in 1905 as a waypoint for the railway from Edmonton to Calgary.
The town is the seat of government for the County of Ponoka.
In 2006, Ponoka had a population of 6,576 living in 2,771 dwellings, a 3.5% increase from 2001. The town has a land area of 13.05 km2 (5.0 sq mi) and a population density of 504.1 /km2 (1,305.6/sq mi).
Fire service is provided by the Ponoka Volunteer Fire department. Policing is the responsibility of the Ponoka Royal Canadian Mounted Police Detachment. General bylaw enforcement is undertaken by the town's special constable, in collaboration with the RCMP. Health care facilities include: The Ponoka Hospital and Care Center (formerly known as the Ponoka General Hospital), The Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury (Formerly The Alberta Hospital Ponoka), The Northcott Care Center, and The Rimoka Housing Facility. The Ponoka Hospital and Care Center is responsible for general healthcare, while the Centennial Centre serves as a care and treatment facility for mental health and is known for its outstanding brain injury program (The Halvar Johnson Centre for Brain Injury). The Northcott Care Center and Rimoka Housing Facility both care for the elderly, with the Northcott Care Center focusing on care for handicapped individuals.
The town holds the Ponoka Stampede, a seven day rodeo at the end of June/beginning of July, usually ending after or on the Canada Day weekend. During this time, the town is packed with holiday trailers and people wanting to watch the rodeo, or participate in the games, activities, and rides in the midway. This is advantageous to the small businesses in the area, as there can be up to four times more customers in their stores than any other time of the year. During Stampede time the population of Ponoka grows by approximately 400 percent.
Ponoka is home to the Wolf Creek Trail which starts at its southern end near the Ponoka Community Golf Course and travels northwards, ending in the middle of a field. The trail follows the Battle River for several kilometers. Along the trail are several descriptions of various local wild animals and historical tidbits. Also along the trail system are several baseball diamonds, benches, and picnic tables.
Another major park in the Town of Ponoka is the Lions Centennial Park. The park is located along the west side of Highway 2A. The park contains a pond with a small dock, several bathroom facilities, a stage, a statue which is "The World's Largest Cowboy Riding a Horse Statue", The Centennial Time Capsule, several gazebos with picnic tables, and the Fort Ostell Museum. The statue has gotten much criticism since it was built. This is because few people in town knew about the statue before it was built and didn't have a say on it. Many say the statue is disproportionate and unrealistic because of the cowboy's short limbs, straight sitting position, amateur facial features; the horse's short legs, the odd angles and bends; and the lack of texture on the cowboy's shirt. Some feel the statue looks like it was made by a grade-school art class. It remains to be seen how long the statue will last as complaints about it accumulate.