Positive Signs:

The Morinville/Sturgeon Regional Recreation Facility Citizens Group presented our concerns to the Town Council of Morinville on September 8 and to the Sturgeon County Council on October 27. Our members have attended Council meetings and open houses over that past 2 years hoping to see a Multi-use Regional Recreation Facility become a reality in the near future.

We have seen what looks like some progress in the past few weeks from the Town of Morinville and Sturgeon County. There was the passing of the bylaws to establish the Inter-municipal Affairs Committee and the mention that the $50,000 grant from that committee may go to the future Arena/Rec. Facility. Also, with the County’s purchase of the 50 acres next to the new Arena/Rec. Centre site the County has offered to cost share with the Town the installation of utilities to the area, which is helpful. As the need for operating cost sharing was pointed out in the 2013 Recreation Master Plan, the County has updated the formula they use to determine how much money is provided annually to the various communities within the County and there was an increase for all communities. Morinville will now receive $247,475 (up from $54,574).

Mayor Holmes requested a quote on 2 options of Phases 1, which has now been supplied to the newly expanded Steering Committee. The quote for Phase 1 is $25-$28M, has one arena, curling rink, fieldhouse, running track, common areas and retail space, and option 2 of Phase 1 has those items less the curling rink. If the entire facility was built immediately and included an aquatic component the price tag is $48 Million component.

Concerns:

The Town has expanded the Steering Committee, previously only Town Councilors, adding people from the general public and some local user groups. There are now 12 new people sitting on the Steering Committee, but there is not a single representative from any of the other Municipalities. That is alarming and telling. There is also a question as to the actual scope and powers of the Steering Committee. . We question what power this new “Steering Committee really has, and if it will simply allow the Town Council and Administration to check off the box next to “public consultation”.
With the $25-$28 Million just for Phase 1 and an already partially used budget of 13.75 (10 of which will be borrowed and uses up nearly half of the Towns borrowing limit of 22M) it is astonishing that the Town has not made a clear request for full partnership and/or capital from the obvious Regional partners (i.e. Sturgeon County, Town of Legal). There should be a deadline given to potential partners so the Town can determine an actual budget and a factual plan.
The Spruce Grove Tri Leisure Centre was the result of the Municipalities of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County working together to build and operate the facility. The community, the Councils and the CAO’s worked together to create a successful project that has provided recreation, economic development, population growth and a larger tax base. Leduc and Athabasca are two more examples of successful facilities realized through Municipal Partnerships. Some have required Petitions to bring all parties to the table, and some have been able to come together willingly realizing it is the best solution for their respective constituents. It is our hope that the leadership within the Town and the County can choose to create the necessary partnerships now and build for the future so that we do not fall further behind these other municipalities in the Edmonton region.

There is no logic to how this process is being handled other than the people that have the power and make the decisions have no intention of a sustainable Regional Recreation Facility becoming a reality anytime soon. Is this the transparent and responsive governance that we hear so much about but rarely see? The budget process is winding down and decisions must be made. The Morinville/Sturgeon Regional Recreation Facility Citizen Group asks that there be immediate cooperation between both Morinville and Sturgeon Councils and their respective CAO’s work together to create a multi-use facility for this region. As a sign of acknowledgement to the public we would ask the Sturgeon County CAO and or a Councillor sit on the newly created Steering committee. Commitment is required now.

Alanna Hnatiw
Morinville/Sturgeon Regional Recreation Facility Citizen Group

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