Editorial: Rebranding vs. reality

A narrow path leading to the open Morinville Public library was the only spot cleared in front of St. Germain Plaza over the weekend.

A MorinvilleNews.com Editorial

By Stephen Dafoe

Throughout the 2011 budget discussions we heard much about the need to hire a number of positions for the soon-to-be completed Community Cultural Centre. Suggestions that perhaps some positions could be part time or filled by contract workers were met with the rebuttal that it was crucial that the facility be properly staffed to leave the right impression to those visiting the facility. Do half a job and Morinville and its new $11 million facility would look bad.

For good or for ill Morinville Town Council permitted the hiring of the staff it feels are needed to create the right impression to visitors when the cultural centre opens this spring.

It was probably a good move, given the amount of money being spent on the facility and to market it and the Town as a whole now that Morinville is in the process of rebranding itself for another hundred years of existence.

The new logos, slogans and attitude are intended to attract new businesses, families and tourists to town while giving existing Morinvillians a new sense of ownership and pride in our community.

An employee of one of Morinville's downtown businesses clears the walk in front of the store Saturday afternoon.
But it snowed this past weekend and a painful rift was opened between rebranding and reality, a white pile of snow that was still present in front of the Town Offices, St. Jean Baptiste Park and in the arena parking lot late Sunday afternoon.

Little criticism can be made of Town of Morinville crews who worked this past weekend to clear arterial roads and Morinville’s five zones in accordance with the Town’s snow removal plan. It was good to see graders digging and scraping Morinville neighbourhoods Sunday afternoon, particularly considering the pounding the region took over the weekend. But the snow remained in front of the Town Offices throughout the weekend as it did in the arena parking lot.

When Morinville business owners were busy cleaning their sidewalks Saturday morning (even those businesses that are closed Saturdays) it is disappointing that library visitors had to trudge through the snow to get to the path library staff had cleared for patrons to access the facility in St. Germain Plaza.

It’s also disappointing that those who attended Sunday’s Jets game had to fight their way into the arena parking lot, not because it was packed with hockey fans but because the lot’s entrance was still packed with snow.

One is left to wonder what branding image and marketing plan can overcome the impression left in the minds of visitors from Sherwood Park who saw vehicles stuck in the parking lot of an active town facility.

A man clearing the walk in front of a downtown business can be seen from the snow covered sidewalks in front of St. Jean Baptiste Park Saturday afternoon.
One is left to wonder what image the town has created in the minds of local business owners who cleared their sidewalks on Saturday morning while the Town’s own sections of downtown sidewalks remained snow covered throughout the weekend.

Snow removal is a difficult job and no matter how fast it is done there will be those who find fault. But when so much time, money and energy is being spent on the image we want to convey to the outside world, it is important that that image be something more substantial than a new logo and catchy phrase on a glossy colour brochure.

Graphic designers will often speak of the importance of white space and how it too can send a message. The white space left in the downtown core this past weekend certainly has sent a message to visitors and residents, and it’s not the image the Town wants to convey through its rebranding efforts.

While the clearing of roads is and should be a priority, the Town of Morinville should also be a leader in clearing its own property’s sidewalks and parking lots rather than following the fine example of the business owners who took the time to do so.

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4 Comments

  1. I find it disappointing that this article tries to combine the work being done on the re-branding initiatives currently being undertaken by the Town’s Council and Staff with the excellent efforts that were made by the snow clearing crews this past weekend.

    This article focuses on the fact that staff did not clear 500 feet of sidewalk instead of focusing on the fact that staff cleared most of Town’s roads instead. Yes they got paid OT and yes it’s there job, but if we lived anywhere else around the Capital region we would be struggling to get out of our driveways as their City crews do not clear residential roadways.

    As a taxpayer, I for one am HAPPY that Town staff did not spend time clearing a sidewalk and an arena parking lot and that the cleared the arterial and main roads. Why clear something like that when the roads leading up to it haven’t been plowed?

    And I’m sure the visitors from Sherwood Park were glad to be driving down a plowed road as it’s probably a very foreign sight for them to see.

    I have sat on many committees over the years and listened to discussions on the future of Morinville, the MSP and re-branding, and I know that the Town IS a LEADER in many facets of municipal initiatives and hopefully future articles would focus on those, instead of taking up white space with articles like this one.

    Sincerly,

    The Happy Taxpayer

    • We’ve acknowledged the excellent job the Town did clearing the roads (particularly given the amount of snowfall) but stand by the opinion that the sidewalks in front of the park and Town Offices should have been cleared. If our business owners are expected to keep their walkways clear for pedestrians, so too should the Town, if for no other reason than to keep pedestrians from having to walk along the highway that is 100 Avenue.

  2. I know the town has bobcats and the machines with the brush on the front. it would have taken 10-20 min to clear our the area in front of the town office.

    or support your local businesses and contract the work out to one of our MANY snowremoval contractors.

  3. As the editorial states the roads are cleared with great efficiency and I believe public works should be commended for its work. It would be smart to use this as a learning experience. If a public area is open even during excessive snowfall it needs to be treated as a business owner would treat their property. Having car after car get stuck at the arena is not acceptable. Could you imagine concert goers coming to see a high-end show at the new cultural centre trudging through 1 1/2 feet of snow to get to the door. Not a good impression.

    On the other hand it is very easy to throw stones (or snowballs) at those trying to balance all of the factors that make for a nicely run town. This is one of those areas that can be learned from and is a bit of an extraordinary situation.

    Does anyone know what the policy is for clearing snow in these areas?

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