by Tristan Turner
After months of speculation and closed-door meetings, Council announced the location of the much-awaited recreation centre to replace the ageing Ray McDonald Sport’s Centre during a special event at the cultural centre Tuesday night.
The new facility will be built just east of Morinville (East Boundary Road) and north of Highway 642. The land is 77 acres, which gives the site “possibilities and potential” according to Mayor Holmes. The announcement drew applause from the roughly 100 people present for the event.
Although the location is known, the price of the land is not. Mayor Holmes said one of the conditions was that the purchase price was to remain confidential until the deal closes May 1.
Just what will rise on the 77-acre parcel remains to be seen. Council is concluding the first round of stakeholder consultations Feb. 5. Holmes said further rounds of consultation are coming after the facilitator formulates a report to Council on what the first round revealed. During these meetings, residents will be able to share their priorities and desired amenities and consider the costs of the facility based on community desire.
Councillor Barry Turner commented on what he heard at his stakeholder session Jan. 24. He said the community so far was saying that they wanted a multi-purpose rec centre to be built not in stages, but with multiple components and amenities built at once.
Holmes said the $13.75 million allocated in the 2015 budget would cover the land and a replacement arena; however, other amenities could be added following the last stages of public consultation if there is sufficient interest.
In response to a question from a resident on the future status of the current Ray MacDonald Sports Centre, Holmes confirmed that the centre will be open until March. Further analysis at that point will confirm the future status and whether or not further repairs will be financially feasible to keep the centre open until the construction of the new centre. The mayor said if feasible repairs could keep the facility open for another year or two, it would give additional time on the project.
In answer to questions about regional collaboration and partnerships, Mayor Holmes said the fact Morinville was allowed to buy a piece of land in Sturgeon County was amazing. The mayor said it signalled increased cooperation between the two municipalities and the mending of “burned bridges” between the two governments in the past.
Present at the announcement was Sturgeon County Mayor Tom Flynn and Councillor Jerry Kaup, as well as Legal Mayor Ken Baris and Bon Accord Mayor Randy Boyd.
Below is a Google Map and street view showing the location. The property is 77 acres east of East Boundary Road and north of Highway 642.