By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Shovels could soon be in the ground to start a playground at the Lakes after Council voted 4-2 in favour of spending up to $132,250 to kick the project off, $107,250 plus the remaining balance of monies earmarked for a parks study project. Councillors David Pattison and Gordon Boddez opposed the decision.
More than a month after Council received the latest from their parks consultant, Council again chewed the carpet on the matter of what to do about the Lakes, Montreux, Heritage Lake, and Rotary Park, the latter already under development by the Rotary Club of Morinville and set to be completed within the next two years.
At the May 14 Council meeting, Councillor David Pattison and Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes both made motions related to how best to move forward with the Town’s parks and green spaces. Pattison’s motions were to develop a phasing strategy for the three proposed parks not yet being developed, and to continue proactive planning of the community’s remaining open spaces to understand the broad requirements of residents. Deputy Mayor Holmes requested Administration to find $100,000 to get shovels in the ground this year to develop the first phase of a park in the Lakes district.
Administration brought a phasing summary for the three parks back to Council June 25 to provide background information to allow Council to prioritize and provide direction on future budgeting.
That summary, from consultant John Buchko of EDS Group Inc., ranked the individual priorities for each of the three proposed parks on a scale of one to 10 for community and for neighbourhood to arrive at a ranking of 20. Heritage Lake’s priority is to first development paved roads and parking surfaces to allow better access to the 26-hectare park and pond. For the Lakes, the plan is to add to the existing storm water management facility (SWMF) with formal and natural landscape areas. That plan would include a lighted trail system, with nodes for seating and play areas. For the Montreaux subdivision, the consultant has indicated the plan calls for a gated off-leash dog area, benches and trails, the latter deemed the priority for the proposed park.
EDS Group Inc. said it could have a meaningful draft of a final report prepared for Council’s Sept. 10 meeting.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein said she was done with studies and wanted to see some action going forward, particularly if money was available. “Why spend more money,” Boutestein said, adding if the Town has $25,000 kicking around for more consultant reports, she’d like to see it going into moving parks forward. “I want to see a park. I want to move forward. I will not be supporting any more studies.”
Councillor Gordon Boddez said some members of Council just want to do without proper planning. He said the $25,000 remaining in the consulting budget should be used to look at the broader needs. “We are just jumping into the Lakes and doing it,” Boddez said. “I don’t think we are being fair to the people of this community. We are shooting the gun before we load it.”
Available Lakes funding to be used
In response to Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes May 14 request to find $100,000 in funding to start Phase 1 of a park for the Lakes district, Administration reported there was currently $472,000 in a reserve built from developer recreation contributions, monies levied to builders for each lot in a development. Out of that reserve fund, $100,000 has been allotted for the Lakes. Current developer contributions for the subdivision are $29,000, of which 25 per cent can be used for park development. The combination in funding from the two sources is $107,250.
Buchko said the two areas of priority for the Lakes development would be trails and a formal playground at the north end of park. His recommendation was to focus on a playground connected to existing trail, one that should be a significant structure that meets the needs of the community if not a full playground. He said he could not say to what extent $100,000 would go towards providing a playground that would meet the needs of the community.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein moved to spend that money on the Lakes plus the funds remaining in the parks study project, estimated to be roughly $25,000.