by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent
Sturgeon County is throwing their hat in with the Town of Morinville to develop a business case for Morinville’s major new recreation centre project, following a unanimous Oct. 26 vote from Sturgeon County Council to develop a business case for the regional recreation centre together. This decision came after a request from Morinville’s Council to their county counterparts to develop the business case together to create more leverage in requesting funding/grant opportunities from the federal and provincial government.
The Town will also seek 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. This joint business case will increase the focus on the project being a regional recreation centre, but the scope of future collaboration on this recreation centre remains unclear.
The rec centre project is moving ahead in two stages, the first being a smaller project to replace the current aging arena and install common areas and a running track. The County is only involved in this stage in that they contributed to servicing costs as part of an agreement with the Town on jointly servicing the Town and County’s neighbouring properties, the latter of which will house County-owned buildings.
The second and much larger stage, involving a second sheet of ice, a large aquatic centre, a field house a curling rink and more common space, may now go forward as a regional project between the County and the Town. Many future details about the potential for direct capital and operational funding from the county are unclear at this stage; however, despite the recent Regional Recreation Needs Assesment Survey commissioned by Morinville that noted significant demand for more recreation space both in town and throughout the county.
Currently, there is a rocky relationship in cooperative funding for services offered in Morinville between the Town and County, with Morinville’s Council previously encouraging the County to contribute far more than their $3,000 annual allowance to the Morinville Library.
Despite this, Morinville’s Council seems to remain optimistic about a future of greater county involvement, with a round of warm comments directed from Morinville’s Council to their county counterparts following the announcement at Morinville Council’s Oct. 26 meeting.
Regardless of the County’s role going forward, Morinville will break ground on construction of the first phase of the development in early 2017.