Are people prepared to wait?

by Lucie Roy
Morinville News Correspondent

The Arena/Recreation Facility Project (ARFP) Steering Committee held their second meeting Jan. 14. Brian Bengert of Architecture Tkalcic Bengert presented 10 slides with schematic conceptual designs. It was emphasised the design drawings were a talking document not necessarily the Morinville project site plan. They were displayed to start the conversation.

committee-webChair Gord Putnam said Council hoped to have ground-breaking this spring, but it is not the recommendations or thoughts of the Steering Committee. January was also to be the decision-making month, but the committee can only recommend waiting as the committee cannot make that decision at this time.

The consensus at the meeting from the round-table discussions and final remarks are that the committee members are prepared to wait to make a decision.

“It is no problem if it is delayed a year as they will work to have a shovel-ready project … the federal and provincial governments can jump on board and perhaps a partner or two,” said Vice Chair Joe Gosselin. “If it means more money to be spent on the current arena to extend its life, then so be it. We need to do it right the first time and need to do a grand project and can’t do that until [we] have answers to the money, even if it takes six months to a year.”

Committee members considered what was best for the next 25 to 50 years. They feel it is hard to say what the final recommendation to Council will be without a cost, partnerships, as well potential savings from using a Sprung (membrane) structure compared to conventional build, or cost differences between a standard and Olympic-sized pool, or a 1200- to 1400-seat arena. The committee feels they need actual figures to play with.

“The Olympic-sized pool would be optimal to host events and there is not one north of the river that is Olympic sized, “ said committee member Korien Sampson.

The committee’s recommendations are for a full build up cost and to wait until they get the numbers and partnerships to prepare a shovel-ready plan. Many felt it was better to wait and get what the community wants. Topics included the maintenance and operating costs, staffing, utility costs, borrowing and selling the project tot he community.

Sentiments echoed by most of the committee members is that Morinville has one crack at the project, people deserve two sheets of ice and a pool, and that these are all the things the community and region have been waiting on for more than 15 years. They do not want to see something built that is budget-constrained due to a lack of funding.
Committee member Andre Houle said the group needs to think big and think bigger than they are currently thinking. At the same time, he did not want to stall the project.

Sturgeon County Councillor Pat Tighe said there was lots of detail to the project and that he felt the group was getting ahead of themselves.

“While it is great to have dreams and aspirations, reality will set in,” he said. {We] need true data. You need to have true commitment and specifically between Town and the County itself. Those discussions will be coming out.”
The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, and every second Thursday of the month after that.

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1 COMMENT

  1. While it is great to think bigger, as a Morinville homeowner and taxpayer, this project worries me. A lot. I don’t want my property taxes to go sky high so that someone can have two sheets of ice and a pool, no matter how long they have been waiting or how entitled they may feel.

    We need to do thorough research and then build what we can afford now. Design the building and land layout so that we have the option to add to it later in the future if required. Do we really need a 1400-1600 seat arena? How many people can the current arena hold? How often is it ever filled? How can you break ground if you have no idea what you need? How can you go forward if you have yet to get firm commitments on federal, provincial and municipal funding? We need to know how much it will cost to build and the annual cost to run and maintain this facility before we build it, not live with the cost overruns afterwards. Smart people don’t buy first, then figure out how to pay for it afterwards.

    When I was a teenager, my father gave me invaluable advice that I know many friends and adults never ever considered. It’s great to own a nice car, but after paying for gas, maintenance and insurance, it is even nicer to have money left in your pocket to spend wherever the new car takes you. If we build something beyond our current and future means, it will be a lodestone around our necks that will bury taxpayers and leave little flexibility for anything else. Take your time and do it right.

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