Above – mayor Lisa Holmes address Sturgeon County Council Oct. 11. Also in attendance from Morinville were Councillors Boutestein, Dafoe and Putnam. – Lucie Roy Photo
by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
The Town is moving ahead with a plan to initiate a new two-staged arena and rec facility, seeking support from Sturgeon County on the larger portion of the project. This project comes after years of consultations, committee forming, discussions with municipalities and a major recreation needs assessment, all culminating in a final site plan with construction slated to begin early next year.
The initial stage would have the arena, a running track, and a fitness centre, as well as a common area and commercial space. The next phase will be far larger, featuring a fieldhouse, curling rink, multiple swimming pools and additional commercial space. This project, including both stages, is expected to top out at $70 million. The final site plans and construction preparations are all that remain on moving forward with the first phase, following a motion from Council for their project architect, Architecture Tkalcic Bengert (Atb), to be ready for early 2017 construction on phase one.
This first stage will replace the Town’s current arena, which is near death following a recent Town project estimate to keep in operational for five years, at the most. The second, larger community recreation focused stage has been discussed for years, with some support for increased access to recreation in the Town’s recent Recreation Needs Assessment.
The Town will be seeking a variety of different funding opportunities to complete both stages of the project, hoping to get significant provincial and federal funding, in addition to already available MSI and Federal Gas Tax funding, along with donations and capital borrowing.
The Town is limited by a hard debt cap of under $24 million leading the Town to develop the project in stages with multiple sources of funding beyond debt.
The Town will also be seeking funding through the county’s Capital Agricultural / Recreational Facility Development Grant (CARF) program and has requested that the County work with the Town on the second phase of the project going forward, forming a joint business case for federal and provincial governments.
This joint business case would increase the focus on the project being a regional recreation centre. Council expects to hear final decisions from Sturgeon County Council on Oct. 25 about their future involvement in the project, following a recent motion referring the decision for their next council meeting.
These new developments came following a motion from Mayor Holmes on behalf of Council to seek the CARF funding, present the joint business case, and direct Atb to begin final site planning for early 2017 construction. The motion passed 7-0.