Letter: Regional Recreational Complex or a Local Arena/Curling Complex?

A MAJOR DECISION FOR MORINVILLE AND STURGEON COUNTY!

Should you get involved?

Morinville Council is rapidly moving forward on a decision that will have an important effect on the long-term growth of Morinville and Sturgeon County. This decision will be to either start building a replacement Arena/Curling complex right away ( inside Morinville boundaries) or work with Sturgeon County, Legal, Bon Accord, Gibbons, Redwater and a variety of ‘other groups’ to develop a more comprehensive Regional Complex that would probably proceed within the next three years.

The History:

In the last few years there has been increasing pressure from Morinville residents to build additional recreational facilities. This pressure has also been growing in the other Sturgeon Municipalities, as well as in the County itself. In the last 10-15 years Morinville has conducted a variety of surveys asking its residents what type of facilities they want. If you go to Morinville.ca you can read some of these results in a study Morinville Council recently conducted. Council is requesting Morinville residents further review the study results and discuss what action Council should take.

In addition to the above study, a Regional Recreation Study was conducted by all the Municipalities in the Sturgeon Region (including Morinville) in the last couple of years, concerning the need for a Regional Recreational Complex. This study concluded that a Regional Recreational Complex, generally along the lines of Servus Place ( St. Albert), the Tri-Leisure Centre (Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County), or the Leduc Complex, would be a very valuable and beneficial model for our Region. That study did not specify a specific location for such a Complex. The study ’broadly’ suggested a location near the center of the county, somewhere between Morinville and Bon Accord.

Of course this is the ‘nub’ of the issue…. Where should such a facility be located? Who or What Type of Organization should control this facility AND finally…. What is a fair amount for each Municipality to pay in both Capital and Operating Costs?

This is where most of these Municipal cooperative arrangements break down. But not all!

Will Morinville Council be willing to explore the possibilities of a cooperative and positive model like the one demonstrated by Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County with the Tri-Leisure Center? A facility that has benefitted all user groups and fostered incredible economic and social benefits for the various partners over the last 10 years!

Well, all residents will be finding out very soon what path our Morinville Council will follow.

The Decision:

Morinville’s former Mayor, Lloyd Bertschi, recently sent a letter to the editor. In it he made several key points relating to a new recreational facility. He mentioned the importance of a facility that would include Morinville, Sturgeon County and other Municipalities. He mentioned that based on current low interest rates to Municipalities, Morinville could obtain a new Debenture of between $10 – $12 Million (depending on length of time on debenture) and not have to increase taxes to Morinville taxpayers. Additionally, Mr. Bertschi pointed out that the existing operational costs of the existing Ray McDonald Sports Center (approximately $250,000) could be folded into a new site.

A number of groups and individuals in the community including the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary, and even some of the Hockey Groups have been strongly encouraging Morinville Council to look at the long range picture and not just immediate needs. Council has been encouraged to take a look at all of the costs and benefits of a Regional approach versus a Morinville go it alone approach. Council is being asked to take a serious look at what could benefit Morinville and all of the communities in our Region.

Many residents question any promise that starts with a first phase (which we can now afford) and then adds pieces as monies become available. What kind of facility do you eventually end up with? How often do these next “phases” even materialize?

The granting structures of both the Federal and Provincial Governments now strongly encourage cooperation between Municipalities, School District(s) and all other groups in order to access funding. Sharing capital construction costs and ongoing operational costs across regional partners only makes sense. Costs are reduced because of the number of participating agencies.

There is substantial evidence to support a Regional Recreational Complex with Morinville, Sturgeon County and other Municipalities participating as partners.

As a former Councilor and short term Mayor for Morinville, I would suggest that all citizens get involved in this very important issue. Why not see if we can all work together to arrive at an outcome that results in the VERY BEST DECISION and FACILITY for EVERYONE?
There is a lot at stake here!

Should You Be Involved? No question!

Sincerely,
Gordon Boddez
Former Councilor/Mayor of Morinville

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1 Comment

  1. A good letter Gordon…

    It will be EXTREMELY interesting to see just how many people – and not only residents of Morinville! – attend the scheduled Open House.

    I agree with Gordon’s view that there will be three major issues surrounding this whole project. Further, I believe the solution of these BEFORE the final decision is given, REGARDLESS of whether it is a ‘Regional Recreation Complex’ or a ‘Local Arena/Curling Complex’ is critical:

    1. Location. Exactly WHERE will this structure be located and, perhaps more important, what criteria will be used to make this decision? Obviously the present owners of said property could make things VERY difficult. The Cardiff Corners intersection problem comes to mind!

    2. Control. WHO will physically run whatever facility is eventually constructed? I believe this to be critical and it MUST be sorted out long BEFORE the first shovel goes into the dirt. The Town of Morinville has, with its operation of the Community Cultural Center, proven without a doubt that it is totally incapable of managing such an operation, but you can count on its insistence at being in the forefront of any decision-making process! Even if it turns out that we are going to “go it alone” with a facility, control must rest with some sort of ARMS-LENGTH agency. I think our Library Board provides a good model to start with.

    3. $$$$$. Not only the capital costs, but even MORE crucial will be the ongoing operating costs. Has ANYONE even examined what those other facilities are costing each year? Trust me when I say that the $250k Mr. Boddez mentions in his letter is a mere pittance compared to the reality – ESPECIALLY if local or regional bureaucrats are allowed to gain control! Morinville’s Cultural Center is but one example of bureaucracy run amok. The Westlock swimming pool complex is another example of an overwhelming ongoing operating cost problem…

    The main reason I bring up the ongoing operating cost issue is simple. Despite everyone’s insistence that taxes will NOT go up as a result of building “a” facility, I deem this to be quite untrue. With photo radar revenue going down each year (at least according to some people), THAT source of income cannot be relied on to provide Morinville’s share of the requirement. Where do YOU think the money will come from?

    Finally, I TOTALLY agree that folks had best become more involved in THIS issue than they have in past concerns because, if they don’t – they forfeit the right to criticise whatever decision is made.

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