Morinville Town Council briefs

By Staff

Morinville – The lateness of Tuesday night’s council meeting did not allow us time to file full stories on what was discussed at the Feb. 28 meeting; however, here are some updates on what transpired. Our full stories will be published throughout the day Wednesday.

Oyarzun named CAO
Council has selected its new Chief Administrative Officer to replace Eddie Doepker whose contract was terminated July 14, 2011. After narrowing more than 40 applicants down to a shortlist of 12, and narrowing that list down to four final candidates, Morinville Town Council spent the day Feb. 18 interviewing the four finalists.

Debbie Oyarzun was unanimously selected by Council to serve as Morinville’s new CAO. Oyarzun, who was originally hired as Morinville’s Deputy CAO has been performing the role of interim-CAO for the past seven months, and said she is looking forward to continuing the work she has been engaged in for several months.


Civic Plaza cost overruns infuriate council

Representatives from ONPA Architects and Synergy, the architectural firm and contract manager involved in the renovations to Civic Plaza made a presentation to Morinville Town Council Tuesday night, delivering the bad news that the project, originally estimated to cost the community $2.8 million would now cost just shy of $4 million.

Rob Black from ONPA said there were approximately $870,000 in additional expenses, including general higher sub-trade prices and additional construction and renovation requirements that could not be foreseen prior to the building being gutted last July.

Council had initially thought the project would cost $2.5 million but upped their budget to $3.5 million once a more concrete estimate had been obtained. Council was unanimous in expressing their displeasure the re-purposing project would now near the $4 million mark.

Mayor Bertschi said the additional $500,000 variance could be funded through available Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding from the province; however, he is anticipating administration will be working with the construction management company to ensure their cut of the project does not increase along with the cost overruns.


Fourth quarter report shows drop in tickets

Morinville Town Council received the fourth quarter report from Administration Tuesday night, a package that outlines the town’s finances, trends, statistics and other items of interest for the months of October to December 2011.

Among the information presented to Council Feb. 28 and to be discussed at the March 13 meeting were statistics from Integrated traffic Services, Morinville’s photo radar operator.

That report reveals a 38 per cent decrease in the number of tickets issued in the fourth quarter of 2011 as compared to the fourth quarter of 2010. A total of 993 tickets were issued between October and December of 2011, compared with 1,600 tickets during the same quarter of 2010. ITS attributes the 607-ticket decrease primarily to construction on 100 Street near Cardiff Road and the introduction of a three-way stop at the Cardiff road intersection with 100 Street.
Half of the 20 locations monitored by ITS resulted in no tickets being issued in the fourth quarter.

Although tickets were down in the fourth quarter of 2011 over 2010, the number of speeders recorded by the westbound and eastbound speed education signs on 100 Avenue were actually up. Westbound 100 Avenue saw a 0.8 per cent increase over 2010. Peak speeds in both years were clocked at 100 km/h in the 50 km/h zone. Eastbound 100 Avenue saw an increase of 0.6 per cent from 2010 numbers. The top speed clocked on eastbound 100 Avenue was 153 km/h a significant increase from the top speed of 124 km/h in 2010.

We will bring our full story on the fourth quarter report later today.

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  1. Just a couple of comments on each of your stories in turn…

    Heart-felt congrats to our new CAO! In my dealings with her, she has proven to be approachable, open and exceptionally helpful. If all bureaucrats performed the same way she does, governments at all levels would be much better served!!

    The Town Hall/Library cost overrun is plumb disgusting, in my humble estimation. I was also at that meeting last evening and I am incredulous that our contract with these bozos didn’t protect us against this sort of crap! Members of our Town Council were truly surprised (and not a little angry) on being given this information. Administration’s work with these guys over the next couple of weeks should be extremely interesting.

    Finally, the point on the Integrated Traffic Services (ITS). This whole issue is NOT going to go away anytime soon! Your readers will be interested to know that an analysis of the Third-Quarter statistics shows that fully ONE-HALF of the sites supposedly monitored did not see ONE MINUTE of monitoring! In other words, ALL the time was spent monitoring those sites with a history of big-buck revenues. Not a cash-cow? Don’t make me laugh!! Hmmmm… On the other hand, perhaps this is where funding for our cost overrun will come from.

    I have high hopes that the Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, which the Town hopes to have up and running by the end of March, will get a lot of this sorted out!

    I’m looking forward to your full stories on all these issues.

    Have a nice day!

  2. Congratulations Debbie on your appointment. I fully agree with Jim’s comments and you have been extremely helpful to me in providing any information requested. I look forward to working with you in the future.

    My husband and I were also at the meeting last night and extremely disgusted with the news on the cost overruns for the Civic Plaza / Library. From the silence and the faces of the Mayor and Councillors, I got the feeling that our town council were just caught with the pants down and not very pleased about it. How is it possible with a projec this size that NO one knew about the cost overruns? Looking at the Town of Morinville’s Org Chart, there is a “Planning and Development” Division that has a Director of Planning, Project Planer, Planner, Interim Planner, Development Officer. Are you telling me that no one in this area has been monitoring the project? “Mayor Bertschi said the additional $500,000 variance could be funded through available Municipal Sustainability Initiative funding from the province” What does this mean to the taxpayer (eg. what projects are going to be dropped as it would be unacceptible to me as a taxpayer to pay higher taxes next year as a result of this fiasco.


    • It is my understanding the project would fall under the purview of public works and not Planning and Development, the latter of whom are responsible for bylaws and permits for how land is used in the community. Municipal infrastructure and its maintenance and redesign would fall under public works.

  3. Thanks Stephen, for the update. I wasn’t sure what part of the organization this would fall under. However, my comments remain the same – was NO one monitoring or looking after this contract.

  4. I whole heartedly agree with Jim and Linda regarding the appt of Ms Oyarzun. In my dealings with her, she has always been knowledgeable and professional. I also agree with Jim’s comments regarding the photo radar debacle! Hopefully the speed limits won’t be lowered further to increase revenue for these shortfalls in the renovation of Civic Plaza! Linda is absolutely correct, it seems like ALL the contractors here in Morinville are running wild! Do we not have any Contract Inspectors working for this town? These contractors need to be put on a much shorter leash and made to adhere to the rules of the contracts! However, from what I have been reading, I would doubt if these contracts have much meat to them anyway. Seems like the contractors can make their own rules as they go along! More taxpayers dollars going down the tubes!

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