by Colin Smith
Morinville residents have an opportunity to learn how things stand with the arena/recreation facility project at an open house on March 26.
Those attending can discuss the findings from the six stakeholder user groups, as well as help set priorities for the project.
At a Feb. 27 meeting consultant David Ramsey presented Town Council with an overview of the stakeholders’ meetings he facilitated.
That meeting, in which Council was acting as the arena/rec facility steering committee, was open to the public, but only one non-press resident showed up.
The committee decided to hold an open house at which ballpark figures associated with different construction methods, amenities and services would be presented. An additional meeting with user groups is to follow this event.
Council received a written summary and oral presentation of Ramsey’s findings at its Mar. 10 regular meeting.
There was general agreement among the groups that the most important elements for the new arena/rec centre were facilities for hockey and curling, as well as a field house and walking tracks.
There was a lack of interest in a firing or archery range, climbing wall or outdoor space. Food service and conference facilities were also considered of minimal importance.
For the facility to be sustainable, partnerships with all levels of government from municipal to federal were considered vital, along with partnerships with industrial/commercial entities so that beneficial spin-offs could be achieved.
The report concluded there is a strong sense from the user groups that this is a much-needed facility, and that given a transparent and open decision-making process, it could be a significant catalyst for the long-term prosperity of the town.
Opinions diverged on two main issues: provision of aquatic/swimming pool facilities and partnership with schools. The major concern is apparently that schools attached in some way to the new facility will mean that access to facilities will be more difficult due to scheduling issues.
Council met with both school divisions prior to the Mar. 10 meeting to discuss possible locations for their respective school projects.
All user groups cited swimming pools as something they want, but then at least half of those involved stated they didn’t want this type of facility provided. Also at issue was what specifically is desired from an aquatic facility, such as toddler pools, lane swimming, leisure swimming facilities and so on.
The report suggested that as a result of the decision on whether to have a swimming facility should be made on “economic, affordability and utilization criteria” in the immediate, mid-term and long-term time frames.
Meanwhile, Town Council is awaiting a report on the current condition of the Ray McDonald Sports Centre.
“We had anticipated the report would be available on March 10, 2015 based on [the] completion date of the work,” said Morinville Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun.
“However, there were a few small items that were still required — i.e. caulking — that the contractor needed to complete before the engineer could do a final inspection and generate the report.”
Oyarzun said this work has now been completed, and the engineer should be able to submit a report in time for the Mar. 24 Council meeting, or at the latest for the meeting on Apr. 14.
The Mar. 26 open house will take place at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Free childcare will be available.
For more information visit Morinville.ca and click on arena / rec link.