By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – The Town will not be building any new parks in 2012 after Council voted unanimously to reallocate funds earmarked for the development of a park in the Lakes-Champagne District to a series of site plans for three future parks, including the Lakes play area.
Council heard from Community Services Director Kerry Dawson June 26 that the original funding request for the Lakes play area did not include funding for the preparation of a site plan, although $30,000 had been budgeted for site plans for three of the community’s parks. In addition to the Lakes play area, requests have been received for parks at Heritage Lake, Notre Dame and Montreau. As it is believed all the parks should have site plans prior to development, Dawson requested Council to consider using the $130,000 available in the 2012 budget to develop site plans for three of the four parks: Lakes-Champagne, Heritage Lake and Montreau. As Notre Dame is in a period of transition with the addition of modular classrooms to accommodate the former Vanier students as well as expanded parking facilities, administration recommended deferring the development of a park at Notre Dame until the consolidation is completed.
“We need to plan for our sites, and since we do not have [site plan] funding allocated for the Lakes district, I felt it was best we do site plans for all three parks,” Dawson said. “We would have some funds left over and those would go hopefully towards development next year. I think it is essential and very important that we plan our community parks appropriately.”
Dawson said there is a large spot for a park at the Lakes-Champagne District but she wants input and buy-in from the residents before the community spends money building a park. “We want something that will be long term for our community,” she said, adding the development should meet today’s needs as well as future needs.
Dawson estimated the cost of the three site plans, if contracted at the same time, would be in the $70,000 to $80,000 range including public consultation. Pooling the plans should leave $50,000 to $60,000 to go back into park development. She estimated the same three plans would cost approximately $105,000 if contracted separately.
The community service director advocated for the site plans on the basis that public consultation is important to park development, and a lack of a site plan would result in ad hoc decisions and purchases when the park is developed.
Rotary Park to be developed
In addition to the site plans authorized by Council June 26, the Town of Morinville is working with the Morinville Rotary Club to develop a site plan for Rotary Park. Although the club will be incurring the development costs of the park, it was felt the inclusion of Rotary Park in the overall site planning would provide consistency throughout the community’s parks.
Dawson plans to have consultations on all the parks completed by the end of summer and to have site plans to be brought back to Council in September. The development of the sites could take as long as five to 10 years to complete all parks under consideration.