Regional Recreation Facility Master Plan looks to shape activities for next 25 years

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Participants posted their thoughts on the future of recreation facilities in Sturgeon County during an open house in Morinville in January. findings from those consultations have just been released in the Regional Recreation Facility Master Plan. – Morinville News File Photo

By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – Several months of work has culminated in a 122-page document that will form the basis of a new cost sharing agreement with Sturgeon County. The Sturgeon Regional Partnership, collaboration between Sturgeon County, Morinville, Legal, Bon Accord, Gibbons and Red Water started in 2009, has just completed work on a Regional Recreation Master Plan. The plan outlines the infrastructure requirements associated with providing recreation programs and services throughout the region for the next quarter century.

Council was presented the plan and related report during the Apr. 9 meeting of Morinville Town Council as information. That document will be posted to the Town of Morinville’s website for residents to see the results of data gathered over the past several months from residents and stakeholders at a number of open houses, as well as through an online survey.

Highlights of the report

Ninety-six per cent of participants felt recreation was an essential community service. Participants ranked families, youth and seniors as the pecking order for providing those recreational services.

Topping the list for the types of facilities needed in the region were a multipurpose facility with a pool, areas for unstructured recreation, softball fields, hockey rinks, and fitness and weight facilities. Tennis courts, soccer fields and skateboard parks ranked towards the bottom of the list for participants.

Funding facilities through taxation was acceptable to 72 per cent of participants; however, how much tax residents were willing to pay was less conclusive, participants were split almost equally over four options. Approximately 25 per cent of residents were willing to pay $25 a year, up to $50 a year, up to $75 a year, and $76 or more annually.

Information will form part of rec facility study

The 122-page Master Plan provides info on the state of facilities in the region. The consulting company found 81 per cent of recreational facilities were in good to average condition, while 3 per cent were in very good condition. Fifteen per cent were rated in fair to poor condition. The majority of these facilities were sports fields – the remainder outdoor rinks and skateboard parks. The consultants did not find any of the region’s major indoor facilities to be in the fair to poor category. Total value of the region’s owned and operated facilities are believed to be worth $47.9 million after a $22 million depreciation due to their age.

With respect to Morinville’s facilitates, eight exceeded expectation. These included the cultural centre, outdoor rink four softball fields and the skateboard park. Other soccer and softball fields were split between those that met expectations and those that were below expectations and in need of work. Morinville’s tennis courts were considered below what was required by the community and in need of being completely redone.

Recommended actions for Morinville included developing new spaces for indoor fitness and weight / cardio equipment, increasing programming space for the arts and seniors programming, and creating space to replace the existing youth centre.

The Ray McDonald Sports Centre was seen as meeting current expectations and estimated to have 22 years of life remaining for the curling rink, five for the arena, less than the regional average of 15 years remaining life expectancy for hockey rinks.

One of the priorities dictated by the report is a new multipurpose, multi-generational recreational facility for Sturgeon County. The consultants learned such a facility should include a swimming and leisure pool, special event and community gathering space, program space for youth, seniors and the arts, indoor weights and cardio space, and an indoor field house for walking, running and sports.

Just where such a facility would be erected and when is not identified in the report; however, a project to look into the costs and details of a replacement arena were merged with a study to look into a multi-use recreational facility during Morinville’s 2013 budget discussions. That project was elevated on the Town’s priority list when it was discovered in January Morinville’s aging arena had experienced water damage to some of the roof’s beams.

Information from the Regional Recreation Facilities Master Plan will be used in the upcoming Morinville Strategy for a Multi-Use Facility and Conceptual Design project.