A MorinvilleNews.com Editorial
By Stephen Dafoe
Throughout the 2011 budget discussions we heard much about the need to hire a number of positions for the soon-to-be completed Community Cultural Centre. Suggestions that perhaps some positions could be part time or filled by contract workers were met with the rebuttal that it was crucial that the facility be properly staffed to leave the right impression to those visiting the facility. Do half a job and Morinville and its new $11 million facility would look bad.
For good or for ill Morinville Town Council permitted the hiring of the staff it feels are needed to create the right impression to visitors when the cultural centre opens this spring.
It was probably a good move, given the amount of money being spent on the facility and to market it and the Town as a whole now that Morinville is in the process of rebranding itself for another hundred years of existence.
The new logos, slogans and attitude are intended to attract new businesses, families and tourists to town while giving existing Morinvillians a new sense of ownership and pride in our community.
But it snowed this past weekend and a painful rift was opened between rebranding and reality, a white pile of snow that was still present in front of the Town Offices, St. Jean Baptiste Park and in the arena parking lot late Sunday afternoon.
Little criticism can be made of Town of Morinville crews who worked this past weekend to clear arterial roads and Morinville’s five zones in accordance with the Town’s snow removal plan. It was good to see graders digging and scraping Morinville neighbourhoods Sunday afternoon, particularly considering the pounding the region took over the weekend. But the snow remained in front of the Town Offices throughout the weekend as it did in the arena parking lot.
When Morinville business owners were busy cleaning their sidewalks Saturday morning (even those businesses that are closed Saturdays) it is disappointing that library visitors had to trudge through the snow to get to the path library staff had cleared for patrons to access the facility in St. Germain Plaza.
It’s also disappointing that those who attended Sunday’s Jets game had to fight their way into the arena parking lot, not because it was packed with hockey fans but because the lot’s entrance was still packed with snow.
One is left to wonder what branding image and marketing plan can overcome the impression left in the minds of visitors from Sherwood Park who saw vehicles stuck in the parking lot of an active town facility.
One is left to wonder what image the town has created in the minds of local business owners who cleared their sidewalks on Saturday morning while the Town’s own sections of downtown sidewalks remained snow covered throughout the weekend.
Snow removal is a difficult job and no matter how fast it is done there will be those who find fault. But when so much time, money and energy is being spent on the image we want to convey to the outside world, it is important that that image be something more substantial than a new logo and catchy phrase on a glossy colour brochure.
Graphic designers will often speak of the importance of white space and how it too can send a message. The white space left in the downtown core this past weekend certainly has sent a message to visitors and residents, and it’s not the image the Town wants to convey through its rebranding efforts.
While the clearing of roads is and should be a priority, the Town of Morinville should also be a leader in clearing its own property’s sidewalks and parking lots rather than following the fine example of the business owners who took the time to do so.