by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Council has received a report from Morinville’s Director of Planning and Development Greg Hofmann which outlines concept plan and development process for the area surrounding Town Hall including the Midstream Support Society Building and Perras Place, both of which are scheduled for future demolition. The report was lacking in details but mostly outlined that work is underway to determine the future of the large publicly-owned site including and surrounding St. Germain Place (Town Hall).

Hofmann confirmed that Council would have more details when a more complete site plan is unveiled within the next few months, likely in April. Yet a lively discussion developed between Hofmann, CAO Andrew Isbister, and Council members regarding considerations that should be top of mind as changes to the site proceed.

Hofmann informed Council that there were approximately 10 days in January where parking at the building was at capacity, and the problem has become more pronounced over the last year. Hofmann and Isbister offered some potential solutions that administration has been considering for addressing the parking problems. These include burying power lines on the site and redesigning the layout for greater efficiency, asking Town staff to park off site, or expanding the parking lot onto adjacent Town property scheduled for demolition, including Perras Place and/or the Midstream Society’s building.

Councillor Stephen Dafoe was worried about the public perceptions of this move if – referencing the song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ – “we tore down Perras Place and put up a parking lot.” He noted that the site has extreme emotional importance for the Perras family, and insinuated that demolishing the building and using the site for parking may be unpopular. That evening Hofmann clarified that they are considering using approximately a third of the site of Perras Place for parking. Hofmann discussed the possibility that the site may include some commemorative information, preserving some of the site’s heritage.

Isbister also noted that the site would also potentially be used to add a storage space for the Library and an automatic emergency generator for the building to service as a response centre in the event of a community crisis. Isbister also noted the possibility of using the front of the lot as public community space. Councillor Barry Turner noted that he would “like to see [the plan] include some consideration for future growth,” and noted that turning the site into a public space could hurt the Town in the future if they needed to expand St. Germain Place to provide for additional staff space.

Isbister felt that Town Hall could already accommodate enough additional staff to allow for an approximate 50 per cent staff size increase, something not expected to happen for some time. He also noted that it would be more likely that the Town would build a new site for the library and take over their space before enlarging the building, which just completed major renovations in 2012, which were then expected to last at least 15 years.

No decisions were made that evening as it was only a brief update for administration for information only. Residents can read the report to council in detail in the Committee of the Whole’s latest agenda package. The matter is expected to come back to council in April.

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