Recreational open house looks at the future of region’s needs

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Morinville resident Elizabeth Nakohonyk puts her views on the easel Thursday night. – Stephen Dafoe Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – About 60 residents attended a Regional Recreation Master Plan open house at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Thursday night. The joint efforts of six municipalities were thrown up on easels for residents to take a look at and give their thoughts on. The Sturgeon Regional Partnership of Bon Accord, Gibbons, Legal, Morinville, Sturgeon County and Redwater laid out their second stage of efforts on a Regional Recreation Master Plan at open houses held at several County locations this week. Morinville was the final stop. This week’s efforts follow on a series of initial open houses held in October.

The goal of the project, which began in August of 2012, is to build a strategic plan for the region to help guide long-term decisions on recreational services delivery over the next quarter century. The plan looks at existing facilities and programming throughout the region, identifying gaps and duplications in both services provided and funding for those services.

“This [open house] is taking a look at what’s been captured already,” said Morinville’s Chief Administrative Officer, Debbie Oyarzun. “Things like the vision, the various priorities, the various target groups – just to really reaffirm what’s been heard. Have we captured it accurately?” Oyarzun said the open house also sought to see if there were any gaps. “Not everybody can attend all the open houses,” she said. “We want to make sure we give people the opportunity to add more if it is not already here.”

With the data collected at the open house, Stantec, the firm hired to work on the project, will deliver a list of action items to the municipalities based on the findings from the open houses.

One thing Oyarzun has heard loud and clear from the event was how to include Edmonton Garrison in the work, increasing the awareness and understanding of what services and recreational facilities the garrison has. “I see the garrison as providing services to Morinville residents,” Oyarzun said. “I need to better understand that, and I think as a region we all acknowledge that.”

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Reaction varied

Reaction to the easel presentations was varied among those residents who took time to come out to the event. Participants were given sheets of peel-and-stick stars and asked to stick them on the various principles and outcomes they would like to see in the region 25 years down the road. Healthier and happier citizens, closer families, community pride and sense of connection, and reduced environmental effects were some of the options people were given to vote on.

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People were also given the opportunity to give their direct comments on recreational needs in the region. One commenter decried the abundance of splash parks and called on the region to get on board spectator sports like horseshoes. Another commenter said there is a need to focus on youth now to make sure they stay in the region when they have families of their own. Another commenter said competitive sports should not usurp all available time at the various recreational venues.

Morinville resident Elizabeth Nakohonyk said she was disappointed with the low turnout but pleased with the answers she received from consultants in response to her questions about the work. “I’m really pleased with how the different outcomes and principles have been outlined, and especially pleased with the answers to my questions,” she said.

Nakohonyk said she was concerned seniors were not addressed in the proposed target population groups. “All communities have increased their seniors and yet there’s no representation for target population group at all,” she said. “That is, I think, not a good thing.” The target groups identified in the presentation included youth, families and the disenfranchised.

Morinville businessman and former Town Councillor Joe Gosselin didn’t find much of substance on the various easels and in the peel-and-stick stars people were asked to vote with. “A lot of the displays talk in lofty platitudes, and there is a lot of fluff there; however, it is lacking a lot of detail,” Gosselin said. “I realize they are looking for input from the population, but there is very little to give input on. Who does not want more facilities? Who does not want adults and seniors and youth and everybody to be included? Achieving that has been a long-term problem. Here there is nothing that shows that path has been established.”

Gosselin said what is essential is establishing a funding formula for the municipalities; otherwise it will be status quo. “Unless they can agree to that, all of this planning will go out the window and sit on a shelf somewhere because whoever has the money is going to have the control over where these facilities go.”

Input into the Regional Recreation Master Plan is still being sought. The Town of Morinville has an online survey set up.

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1 Comment

  1. I attended the open house and thought that there is considerable value in going directly to the people to see what they want in their community. However, as Joe Gosselin says above, the aim of putting stickers to verify the high level and somewhat fluffy vision statements seemed somewhat pointless. One question was along the lines of “Do we want happier and healthier citizens?” Other than the one person who put no, how could you disagree with that statement? What value is there in that? I would say that the real question should have been, “Do we want to use our tax dollars to pay for happier and healthier citizens?” Even something like – here are the eight main things that we think our vision should capture. Did we get them right? Are we missing something? That would have been of more value.

    Also, I would like to see the Master Plan explore a closer relationship with Garrison Edmonton. Our town has a lot of people who work there, and they have a lot of resources that town residents could and do access, so it only makes sense to try and coordinate with them.

    Finally, I applaud the format and appreciate the openness and transparency of the communications that our CAO is trying to foster. In this case, however, had the questions been framed in a bit better manner, and that is what consultants get paid an awful lot of money to do (without spelling errors I must add), the open house would have been of much more value. I’m waiting to see what the next phase will bring.

    Brent

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