By MorinvilleNews.com Staff
Morinville – The topic of a swimming pool for Morinville surfaced as one of the questions moderator Paul Smith asked of council candidates at Wednesday night’s All-Candidates Forum. Like the public themselves, candidates were divided on the issue.
“It’s easy to build it,” Krauskopf said. “It’s to maintain it after. If residents are willing to put in their tax dollars to maintain that pool, then I suppose we have to look at it.”
Krauskopf said it was on the Town’s long-term plan but he believed Morinville was many years away from having a pool. “We just can’t afford to maintain it,” he said.
“Capital money can always be found through grants, fundraising and stuff like that,” Knight said, noting the bottom line was marinating it once it was built. “The bottom side – everybody is a tax payer in town and everybody wants things. We want infrastructure. I’d rather be able to turn on my tap and get a glass of water than worry about other things.”
Knight said the candidate is in favour of a pool if it can be financially supported, but feels it is not something the town can have now.
“I think we need to go through and re-examine some of the recreation policies that we have in place,” Holmes said. “Our community is constantly changing and we need to make sure that we’re meeting the needs of residents today.”
Holmes said that by sending residents outside the community for swimming opportunities, the town is sending residents outside the community for shopping opportunities as well.
Although Holmes said she believes the pool needs to support itself, she comes from a community of only 3,500 people that had a pool. “I think I’m definitely open to the idea of looking into it.”
“We just built a new cultural centre,” Boutestein said, noting it will take three to five years for it to be able to run itself. “I look at St. Albert and the Servus Centre. I used to live in St. Albert. Our taxes jumped drastically.”
Boutestein said Morinville rate payers would be looking at an increase of $200 to $300 per year just to help sustain the pool once it was built. “They are in the hole every year,” she said of pools. “Until the cultural centre is up and running and it’s sustaining itself; there is no way we can build a pool.”
Boutestein said she is not opposed to the idea of a pool, but feels property taxes are already high enough.
“I think we’re maxed out,” she said. “I’m not going to say it’s not in the future, but I don’t think it’s in the near future. Population – we need to have at least 10,000 people before we can even look at having a pool.”
“There are people on fixed incomes and people who say, ‘I do not want my taxes increased, and on the other side we are a young community and have been for many years,” Boddez said. “The young people in this community have been asking for a pool.”
The incumbent said there have been numerous surveys indicating the top priority of many people in the community was to have a pool. “So here we have a situation that councils have been dealing with for the last – at least – five terms,” Boddez said. “And consequently they don’t deal with it.”
The candidate said over the past three years he has been looking at ways to satisfy both sides – to have a pool and not increase taxes. Boddez said Morinville built its high school with no tax increase.
“Just about everybody in this community said you can’t do it,” he said. “There is a way to do this but you have to think it through.”
Boddez suggested funding the pool from the taxes of the approximately 400 new homes he sees coming to the community in the next few years. “I’m going to take that plan to council to discuss,” he said. “Once and for all, we’ve got to deal with this.”
“What that ties into is the community economic development plan because it is one of the pieces of the puzzle,” Van De Walle said. “I see the pool as a possibility, but you need to have the information to make the right decision. You get that by putting the business case together.”
Van De Walle said he felt the two scenarios should be put on the Town’s website for the public to review. “I heard from many people door knocking that a pool is still a priority item.”
“In one year – in 1985 – they did a study between the fire hall and a pool,” Roy said. “With all the costs it would entail to have a pool here – if we have a pool it would be a good business plan that would be in agreement with before jumping into it.”
The candidate said she felt strongly about the Town of Morinville living within its means. Roy said a pool would have a lot of maintenance costs associated with it.
“You have to prove to me that we can financially support it,” Phinney said, noting that photo radar might be one way to support it. “Once the Community Cultural Centre is built, maybe we can divert those funds for the operation of a swimming pool.”
The candidate said the Town did a study in 2005 that identified a number of recreational facilities. “We need to put the pool in perspective with indoor soccer and other types of recreational facilities,” Pattison said.
The candidate said he visited 2,600 Morinville residences during the campaign and wrote down 800 comments from voters. Of those, approximately 100 had raised the issue of a pool – some being in favour, others against.
“Most of the people have taken the tact that I have – let’s look at the recreation facilities and let’s look long term in this community,” Pattison said, noting that Morinville has a younger population, but also many seniors. “I get people that are interested in activity areas in our parks.”
Pattison said in a recent satisfaction survey, only five per cent of respondents identified the pool as being important to them. He is in favour of a pool if it fits into the overall recreation scheme for Morinville.
“Does that mean we’re going to build it tomorrow?” He asked. “No. did we build anything in this community yesterday? No.”
Pattison said he wants to see a long term plan for all recreational facilities.
Jackie Luker-Chevalier said she would love to see a pool in Morinville and agreed with fellow candidate Lisa Holmes that sending people outside the community to swim is also sending their shopping dollars elsewhere.
Luke-Chevalier, who was a lifeguard and swimming instructor for many years, said she came from a small town with roughly the population of Morinville.
“I come from a town [where] we had about 7,000 people,” she said. “We had two pools there – an indoor and an outdoor. I can’t say they made lots of money. They may not have made any money but they ran and we made it work.”
The candidate said she learned something new from candidate Boddez’ comments and was looking forward to further thinking outside the box to make a pool happen for Morinville.
LISTEN TO THE CANDIDATES ANSWER THE QUESTION
Amenities are important to any community, although the importance of any one amenity will vary from town to town. The topic of a swimming pool for Morinville surfaces from time to time and the discussion always makes a few waves. Where do you stand on the issue and why?