Sturgeon County approves grant for cultural centre

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Sturgeon County Council unanimously approved granting the Town of Morinville $250,000 through its Capital Agricultural / Recreational Facility Development Grant (CARF) program at its June 28 meeting. The funding will assist with the construction cost of the $11 million Community Cultural Centre.

The grant had been identified in the County’s 2011 budget; however, moving forward with the funding was halted when County Council tabled approving the grant at its Mar. 8 meeting pending Morinville’s agreement it would charge County residents the same rental fees as Morinville residents.

Sturgeon County has a cost sharing agreement with Morinville which allows County residents access to Morinville facilities and programs. Earlier this year Morinville Council had expressed interest in exempting the new Community Cultural Centre from that agreement, due to the construction costs of the facility and pending what contribution Sturgeon County would make to the same.

During the June 14 meeting of Morinville Town Council, councillors agreed to have a single-tier system for Morinville and Sturgeon County residents. The condition was confirmed three days later in a letter from Morinville’s Chief Administrative Officer, Edie Doepker, to Sturgeon County Commissioner Chris Micek.

Under the agreement, residents of the Municipality of Sturgeon County will be considered residents and qualify for the resident rate in booking the new facility and its various meeting rooms. The residency rate does not apply to municipal units within Sturgeon County: Gibbons, Bon Accord and Legal.

Although council has agreed to contribute $250,000 towards the construction costs of the $11 million facility, Sturgeon County Mayor Don Rigney took issue with Morinville having approached the County for a contribution when the building was under construction rather than when the project was being contemplated, something he hoped would be rectified on future facilities.

“In the future, hopefully when we’re going to be asked to pay on these things, we’ll get some input,” Rigney said. “It’s only a common courtesy. Gibbons has done that and we’ve been supportive. It makes it a lot easier and a lot less confrontational.”

The CARF program in its current form is set to expire this year, at which time $3.5 million will have been allocated since its inception three years ago. Over the past three years of CARF’s existence, grants have been issued to Legal, Redwater, St. Albert, Gibbons, West Sturgeon Ag Society, Riviere Qui Barre, Edmonton Garrison and the Bon Accord and Sturgeon Ag Societies. The Community Cultural Centre request was Morinville’s first request for a grant through the program.

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