Ask-A-Candidate Question 12

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QUESTION ADDRESSED TO MORINVILLE COUNCIL AND MAYORAL CANDIDATES

Hello I am a new resident of Morinville and we have are an active young family. I have heard that in the past few years there have been discussions in regards to a swimming pool and fixing the arena. I was wondering if in the future there might be further talks about this or the possibility of a type of tri leisure center ( arena gym and pool in one building)? As of right now we go to St. Albert for these facilities I do realize that there is a gym in town, and an arena but the St. Albert facility has child care for my baby if I need. I do appreciate that this would be a huge investment for the town and the cost for running the facility after would be a concern as well. Has the possibility of finding a private investor or some corporate support ever thought as an avenue that has been explored?

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7 Comments

  1. PLEASE NOTE – Only Candidates may post comments to this posting. Morinvillenews.com welcomes reader comments on our articles, but we wish to keep these particular segments open for candidates alone so that readers do not have to separate who is and is not vying for their vote.

  2. Thank you for your question and welcome to Morinville. There have been talks, discussions and hopes for a swimming pool for many years in Morinville. You are absolutely right it is a huge investment but more importantly the operational cost remain as a main concern and would certainly be reflected in our property taxes. Private, corporate or other are investment possibilities however there is still the operational cost. Council has and should continue to work hard at developing and securing solid recreation and cost sharing agreements with Sturgeon County which would ease the operational burden on present and future facilities. We have been told that the population of 10,000 would be more sustainable in regards to a pool and we are climbing to that level. Whether that is still a strong assumption has yet to be determined. In consideration of a water facility one must keep in mind the wants and the needs of the community and the effects they have on the future.

  3. Good afternoon I would like to add a few comments in addition to the comments provided by Councillor Krauskopf.

    We have heard over the years of the “need” for a pool in Town. In fact, when I first ran for Town Council a question of all candidates was asked at the forum. “Do you support the construction of a pool in Morinville”? My response at that time. “If we build a pool in Morinville we will all drown in it”. Figuratively of course, meaning we would drown in it financially.

    However, to show we are proactive in dealing with the wants of the residents of Morinville, about 4 years ago we engaged a firm to do a complete long range parks and recreation master plan for the Town. There was a large community engagement process as part of the research. The Town Council endorsed this plan and we are currently implementing it. Our studies do not get done just for the sake of having a study.

    A pool is part of that plan.

    When their research was complete, Mr. Randal Conrad informed the Council that a population base of 15,000 (not the 10,000 cited by Councillor Kraskopf … sorry Paul) for Morinville is needed to recover 50% of the operating costs of a pool. Until that population level is reached, the subsidy rate from the property taxes is even higher. He also informed us that a tax increase of 16% is required to build a pool and a further 16% to operate it. Compounded that is nearly a 35% tax increase, just to have a pool. When I inform people or these facts, not one person has said, Go ahead and build it, I am prepared to pay the necessary increase in property taxes”. Nobody.

    Now, having said that, I believe there may be an opportunity to have a pool available for public use sooner than that. It requires some “out-of-the-box” thinking compared to the way Municipialities traditionally fund such facilities.

    This past year the Town participated in a joint study to see if the construction of a Hotel was feasible in Town. That study determined a 60 room Hotel with an amenity such as a pool or water slide would make economic sense. We fully intend on taking this information to the hotel industry to encourage a hotelier to come to Morinville. Again, we did not do a study for the sake of having a study but to get the facts so we can talk with authority when approaching someone to invest millions of their dollars in our Town. Here is where the out of the box thinking comes in.

    IF we are successful in attracting a hotel developer to build in Morinville, perhaps we could convince them to enlarge the pool to include a public component. There are a number of risks involved with this approach but I think they could be effectively managed through an agreement that governs access, operating costs, and the initial capital contribution. A 3P or Public Private Partnership.

    If this approach does not work then I do not support the building of a stand alone pool in Morinville at this time.

    Lloyd

  4. I also have a young active family and I completely appreciate where you are coming from. It’s difficult to understand why a town like ours relies so heavily on our surrounding communities for our recreation needs. At the times where my kids are in swimming lessons, we are travelling to St. Albert several times a week – and while there we have eaten out and shopped, spending our money in another community. I strongly believe that we need more recreational opportunities and programming in Morinville. Other communities with a far less population base have built and operated aquatic facilities – so this needs to be something that we look at again. The current recreation plan for the town was written in 2005 and even then there was a survey done that showed strong support for a swimming pool. The timeline written into the plan for an aquatic facility is 10+ years and I think that this part of the plan, along with others, should be revisited. A splash park is a poor substitution as it does not meet everyone’s needs. Seniors and youth are not going to use a splash park – it is meant for young children. We are lucky to have the availability of a facility like Servus Place and I’m not sure that the town would be able to support a facility like that here in Morinville. But looking at what the timelines and priorities are for fitness facilities we could support would be a good start (including corporate and business sponsorship and grant opportunities). It is clear that our current Town Council has lacked a voice for young families and I hope to have the opportunity to speak for them on Town Council in the future.

  5. Thank you for the question and your concerns.

    Some of you may remember that the Servus Place Leisure Centre in St. Albert was suppose to be build on the north end of St. Albert, however it wasn’t. Furthermore; the City of St. Albert after it being open nearly five years still is over budgeting (spending) on this facility by many dollars. They are still today asking for contribution from surrounding businesses and municipalities just like ours to be a float.

    Is running a pool expense? Yes! Is running an Arena, Curling rink, Splash Park, Skate Park, Museum, Library and so on, expense to run and subsidize by the Town? Yes, however we have them why is a pool different.

    Pool or a Leisure Centre? What I believe we should be doing is starting slow with one portion at a time. For example a building with an outdoor pool, then a twin arena, then a curling rink, then an indoor soccer building. Creating the building in a manner that they could all be inter-linked in the future.

    We are already placing funds in reserve for this; we don’t have to do everything at once. One step at the time and moving forward will result on more and better recreation facilities for Morinville to enjoy.

    On any survey or meeting the same issue come out “Pool”. Why are we not doing something about it – lets listen to our people, we have the land (arena/curling rink/splash park area). What are we waiting for?

    I support a pool, however, it must be build and ran in a due-diligent manner.

    Thank you

  6. My name is Gordon Boddez and I am running for my second term on Council. The person asking this question is representative of a growing number of people that have moved into Morinville in the past few years and also representative of people who have lived in Morinville for many years.

    I have given a quite a bit of thought to this question over the last few years and I know that it is almost always at the top of the list for new amenities that should be brought to Morinville. I am also aware of the long history of councils turning away from this question because of the tax implications (see above reference to 35% tax increase projected by a study cited by the Mayor).

    My thoughts go back to the days I was a school trustee in Morinville. At that time we were in a similar situation where many of the ratepayers of Morinville were strongly opposed to the development of a high school (now MCHS) for similar reasons. Taxes were high, the economy was just coming out of a recession and simply there was a low degree of trust in the School District. Well most of you know that MCHS (one of the top 3 schools built in Alberta at that time) was built, and with NO INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES.

    I WILL STATE AT THE OUTSET THAT A POOL CAN BE DEVELOPED IN MORINVILLE WITH NO INCREASE IN PROPERTY TAXES!! This could be done within the next 3-4 years. I am suggesting a phased in concept, starting with an outdoor pool adjacent to the splash park. One that would be expanded and fully covered in the future. The revenue streams are there to do this but one must ask, “is there a will on both council and in the public of Morinville?” Can your representatives on council lay before you a workable, fiscally responsible plan that finally deals with this longstanding issue? If elected I plan to do just that! A PLAN TO DEVELOP A POOL THAT WILL NOT INCREASE PROPERTY TAXES.

  7. As I have said consistently, let’s look at all recreation facility wants and consider a pool in the context of our broader recreation needs.

    The Conrad Study (2005) says 15000 population is necessary to support a pool. A recent Town survey (2009)found 5% of the population mentioned a pool as something they want.

    Bottom line. Before we consider any additional recreation facilities lets look at the capital and operating costs of recreation facilities for the next 20 years.

    We moved here 22 years ago and our family goes swimming at pools in other communities. Would I like a pool in Morinville-definitely but not at just any cost. Are there other recreation priorities-let’s engage residents in a discussion on this. A lot has changed in Morinville and the region since the 2005 Conrad Study. We have many new families. Let’s have current information before we go forward with any new receation facilities.

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