By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Re/Max Real Estate Agent Wayne Gatza has announced he will run for a Council seat in the fall Municipal General Election. Gatza has lived in Morinville since 1996 and served in the Armed Forces as a medical assistant for 20 years.
The local realtor said he was motivated to run by a desire to see economic develop increase in the community. “We’re a growing community and economic development is huge,” Gatza said. “There are certain needs that we have and I’m a person who instead of complaining about it does something about. I don’t want to be a guy that’s going to run around complaining about stuff. I want to be proactive and build the community.”
Gatza said 25 years ago Spruce Grove and Morinville were similar sized communities. Today Spruce Grove is four times the size of Morinville. He attributes that growth differential to aggressive economic development. “[They were] aggressive in bringing in businesses to serve the needs of the population, making it easier for people to move there,” Gatza said. “Families grow up there. Their kids now buy places there. They a wide variety of different condos, town houses, affordable housing, all the businesses.”
The realtor said in Morinville anyone wanting to buy a case of beer has several options, those looking for clothing have none. He’s like to help change that.
Gatza said Morinville needs to carve its own economic development path that works for the community and its residents. “We need to be leaders and not followers, and not look at what everybody else is doing and following suit, but setting and achieving our goals and not talking for years and years without doing anything about it,” Gatza said, adding a hotel is a good example of local delay. “A feasibility study was done in 2009 that showed a gross revenue of $750,000. A hotel would bring lots to the community. You have a wedding here and nobody can stay here. They have to go to St. Albert or Edmonton. A hotel brings in another place like a Boston Pizza and so on. We need to start doing that, being proactive in getting businesses here.”
Another priority in the community for Gatza is additional parks and a recreation facility, preferably with a pool. “Everyone knows it’s [the arena] getting run down,” he said. “It’s a big thing that has to be done whether it has a pool as well.”
If he has a say, such a facility would have a pool. “There should be no reason why we cant,” Gatza said, pools have or are being built in Clareview and Londonderry. “All across the City of Edmonton they are adding pools to all the rec facilities. I see no reason why our town, which is on the brink of hitting the 10,000, couldn’t have a rec facility with a pool and have all those services everybody else has.”
He believes Council should work a little quicker in getting recreation amenities happening in the community. “2009 was a year we did a study on what we needed for parks, and here we are in 2013 and we still have no parks,” Gaza said.
Affordable housing in the community is another concern he thinks Council should address. The realtor said it is a situation he is aware of as the father of a 22-year-old son who is looking to get a place of his own. “There is nothing,” he said.
Skills on the table
Gatza said he believes his 20-years experience in the military, combined with his experiences in minor hockey will help him on Council.
“I believe in organization. I am an organized person. I’m focused and very easy to get along with,” he said. “I’m a team player and these are all things to get things done.”
He believes he has demonstrated those attributes in his personal and volunteer life. Gatza has spent time in minor hockey on the fundraising side to help keep player costs low and has worked on the coaching side teaching coaches how to coach. Team work was essential in both.
Gatza said he understands Council is a learning curve. To help get the ball rolling he has started registered for courses on municipal financing, planning and development, and affordable housing. “To get your certificate you have to take about nine courses,” he said. “I decided if I’m going to run for Council I should get educated. That part is going to be interesting for me.”
He is confident he can overcome the learning curve, but it is his love of the community he has called home for almost 20 years that compels him to run for a Council seat. “I want people here. I want people to come to Morinville to stay here and for the kids to stay here,” Gatza said.