Recreation Open House offers insight and input

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Attendees talk to Councillors and consultants after the formal presentation Apr. 28. Council’s Recreation Open House was attended by about 150 residents. – Lucie Roy Photos

by Tristan Turner

DSCN0469Morinville – Roughly 150 people attended Council’s Recreation Open House Apr. 28. The event was held in conjunction with Saskatchewan-based architecture and interior design firm AODBT, who were chosen by the previous Council to provide a feasibility study on the arena and future recreation needs. AODBT gave a 50-minute presentation outlining potential new recreation facility features, location criteria and thoughts on potential partnerships that could help fund a new facility.

Mitch Strocen, Sustainable Building Consultant with AODBT explained Council’s rationale for replacing the Ray McDonald Sports Center with a new facility, including that the facility is now past its 50-year life cycle and that the Town is growing rapidly with population estimates for 2020 projected to exceed 11,000. Additionally Strocen outlined Morinville residents are proportionally more likely to use a new recreation facility with a median age of just under 33, well below the national average of around 40.

DSCN0516The evenings presentation included a number of case studies from other communities demonstrating various facility designs from other communities, including examples of facilities integrated with high schools or other community centres.

Rather than an open mic format that would allow for few questions, attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions of Council and AODBT consultants face-to-face for the second hour of the open house.

After the presentation, Mayor Holmes clarified that no land has been acquired yet for the arena project that she says will be completed in 2015, but that they are considering eight pieces of land that are both in and outside of the community. “We set the timeline to have the arena project completed in 2015 because we wanted to make it a priority for uses of the current arena so that we don’t have a gap in the hockey season,” she said. “So we’re looking at having a new arena in 2015, that could mean a full recreation facility built by then, or it could mean that the arena portion could be built by then and then other portions [of a recreation centre] could be built on and [be] open to the public later. So we’ll wait and see, but we will have a location decided before council breaks for the summer.” Mayor Holmes went on to say the town is in constant dialogue with the other municipalities about a regional facility, and that they are in discussions with Sturgeon Country about potential land purchases or donations as well as potential operational cost sharing models.

Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald said that he was excited to be at the Open House because he wants to hear from the public as to what they want the future of recreation to look like. “I hope tonight people realize[d] the potential, and that no decisions have been made yet, and that’s why we’re here, because we’re looking for the people to make decisions.”

While Councilor Barry Turner felt input from community is important, he was clear at the event that he desires a Multi-Use Regional Recreation Facility, and says that he will continue to support the concept of a facility with many recreation options operated with the cooperation of Sturgeon County and other partners. “During the election, part of my platform was that a multi-use regional recreation facility was one of the next steps in Morinville’s development, so I’m looking forward to pursuing that option,” he said.

Morinville Chamber of Commerce President Simon Boersma was happy to see a good turn out to the event. “I think the community that showed up tonight was great,” the president said. “It was great to see as many people as there were and I think it really send home a message to Council and to all the user-groups that we really want something and we want to be a part of it. I really want to see a regional facility happen. I think we need private partnership in the facility, and that private business is going to bring home some of the core product that we want to see at the end of the day.”

Council intends to continue community input on the project. Mayor Holmes said a refined survey will follow the survey Council launched during the Trade Show in April. That online survey resulted in 999 responses in the first 18 days. The survey can be taken online at http://fluidsurveys.com/s/morinvillerecreation/.

Above: Tiffany Herrick adding her comments unto the chart at the open house. Rotary Club of Morinville President Linda Killian talks to Councillor Barry Turner at the open house. – Lucie Roy Photos

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