Rotary Club holding open house on recreation facility


By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – If the Rotary Club of Morinville has their way, there will be a new multi-use recreational facility within Sturgeon County within the next five years. The service club of roughly 50 members is spearheading an initiative to get a recreation facility built, and are holding an information gathering session at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre Sept. 18 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“It’s been a long history of difficulty with two separate [municipal] governments coming together to build a project, so it was in our thought process that we would be a facilitator and try to get both groups together to help build a facility,” said Rotarian Joel Chevalier, adding members of the service club went on a road trip in July to look at a number of building styles.

Chevalier said the club was motivated to pursue recreation because they wanted a major project to work on, a regional one that would represent the fact half their membership live in Morinville, the other half in Sturgeon County.

“Our group has really grown in the last two years and we wanted a major project that we could all get behind,” he said, adding the club had already seen the success the Westlock club had with getting a facility built there. “I think Morinville and area is on a precipice as far as growth and we need something within our county to maintain growth,” Chevalier said, adding there are only two swimming pools in all of Sturgeon County. “When you look at other communities and other areas, every small community has some type of facility.”

For now, Rotary is keeping things generic. Ultimately, they would like to see a large multi-use facility in the region, one with two or three sheets of ice and a field house large enough for indoor sports and to accommodate the roughly 1,000 people who attend high school graduation ceremonies each year. Chevalier and his fellow Rotarians are certain the resulting information from their open house will include a strong desire for a swimming pool. “Everything we’ve read [indicates] everyone would like a pool,” he said. “We have to understand pools are like schools; it doesn’t make money, but it is a need.”

The 90-minute open house will provide Rotary with the information they need to push the project forward. “Right now we are just trying to get a grass roots indicator of how much interest there is in a facility,” Chevalier said, adding those discussions will include possible locations. “There are parameters for where we can put it. It has to be put near a waterline, near sewer. You can’t pop it in the middle of a field and expect it to be able to run just because your infrastructure costs will be more than the building.”

Chevalier said he believes the facility will need to be in Sturgeon County rather than Morinville because it needs to be a regional facility usable by those living in the County and the municipalities within it. Additionally, there is greater likelihood of having a facility built if there is regional cooperation. “Regional cooperation is the only true way funding will come our way,” he said. “I think if it is within 15 to 20 minutes of people’s driving, I think that is a very fair distance.”

The Rotary Club of Morinville is hoping residents of Morinville and area will take 90 minutes out to attend the Sept. 18 open house. The evening will include a brief formal presentation on Rotary’s project and be followed with plenty of time to offer opinions and ask questions.

Once the info is gathered, the club hopes to gain some steam on the project with both Sturgeon County and Morinville councils, two municipal governments the service club have already held meetings with. “Both Councils have been very open to it. They agree that it is a need,” Chevalier said, adding the upcoming election will see new councillors added, a situation that could strengthen of decrease the interest in a facility. “Everything is kind of on hold until then.”

Regardless of the make up of the region’s councils post Oct. 21, the service club wants to have the input ready to present to them. Those interested in attending the Sept. 18 open house are asked to RSVP to

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  1. Suggestions:
    -Have the estimated costs ready and what that will translate to in tax increases per household. (many will want facility but may not be willing to pay)
    -Check out the details of the failed attempt that Sturgeon, St Albert, Morinville, had in attempting the same project until St Albert decided to go alone and build Service Place. To avoid repeating the same things.
    -Find examples of where a facility is located in one community, but two or more municipalities pay for capital/operating costs so you can show just how it would/does work.

  2. That is a fabulous idea However on a regional basis how beneficial will a regional facility located right next door to Morinville beneifit the resident of Legal, Bon Accord Gibbons and Redwater? And if Morinville is going to partner with Sturgeon county is Morinville going to use Morinville taxpayer money to pay into this facility? If Morninville taxpayers are going to help pay for this facility so claose to them is Morinville going to dictate to the county what is going to be in this facility ? What about the affect on the rest of the region if this facility is built on the edge of Morinville?
    In all fairness if a regional facility is going to be built it should be centralized to the county not on the edge to the benefit of just one side of the county.

    WOW lucky people in Morinville Servus center and all of the recreational needs funded by the taxpayers of St Albert on one side and a ” regional facility” for all of sturgeon county funded by all levels of taxpayers on the other side !
    I don’t think Morniville is really thinking on a REGIONAL BASIS that will benefit “ALL OF THE RESIDENTS OF STURGEON COUNTY “by asking a facility right outside of their back door on both sides while thinking it is okay for all others residents in the county to have to travel to the edge of the county to use a REGIONAL FACILITY !!!!!!
    This is not about working together as a region this is about getting something for Morinville on the backs of the ENTIRE COUNTY

  3. And where do you think such a facility should be located Constance? In Vimy? In Legal? If we all come into this with your mindset, nothing will be accomplished. Go to the open house!

  4. It should be centralized between Gibbons and Bon Accord.

    Phil you are of the mindset that it should be located next door to Morniville? Where would you locate the REGIONAL FACILITY ? My mindset is what is in the best interest of the ENTIRE REGION !!!!!!!!! not just the doorstep of one municipality. If the entire region is paying
    ( TAXPAYERS) for it should it not be be centralized for the entire region.

  5. What’s with all the negativity Constance? No one has even given an actual “possible”, I must stress the word possible, location for any such facility yet. In the article he says if people had to drive 15-20 minutes… that doesn’t sound like it’s right outside Morinville to me. Attend the open house, give them your thoughts on the project and hopefully IF, again I must stress the word, this project goes forward it will be to the good of all who put into it.

  6. Great idea, glad to see SOMEONE spearheading a conversation. I wish the leadership of Morinville or Sturgeon County would have started this discussion years ago.

    However, if they are both too busy nitpicking at eachother to open a dialogue, it’s nice to see some community-minded volunteers step up to the plate.

    Of the 40+ communities with 3500 people or more in Alberta, there are only TWO that don’t have a pool.

    Don’t let the town ‘leadership’ buffalo you into thinking nobody can afford it. I’ve so far counted 29 communities SMALLER than Morinville that can afford it, and that’s JUST in Alberta.

  7. If the Morinville Rotary club is initiating this do you think they want the facility 15 minutes from Redwater or Gibbons ? I am not being negative I am just presenting my opinion. I have yet to see Sturgeon county get on board for anything that would benefit the entire region as a whole. By the way IF such a facility was to be built and it was located 10 minutes from Gibbons and 20 minutes from morinville from would you be expressing the same comments? Check out the attendance and cost of the TRI COUNTY LEISURE CENTER

  8. It always comes down to MONEY!!

    They who put in the most ALWAYS, ALWAYS, want the most say.

    Because the funding formula is usually per capita, the larger communities pay the most, and the tax payers of those communities will want their politicians to look out for their best interests.

    As a result, communities usually end up going it alone on these type of projects because it so hard to satisfy all of the concerns on the table.

  9. An interesting discussion. As Joe says, it comes down to money. Not services, public interest, convenience, or distance to Morinville, but money. Operating money.

    St. Albert has a great facility, but raised its residents’ taxes considerably. While I’m all for having a facility within a reasonable distance, I’m not prepared to have my property taxes rise to $4,000 or $5,000 a year to support a pool or gym.

    The problem of location is one that comes up often in areas like ours. If you locate it, population-wise, in the middle of nowhere, while you can likely raise money to build it, you will have difficulty keeping it open based on revenue alone.

    Such facilities require costly utilities, supplies, regular maintenance, and employees (support and operating staff), to keep it open and fully booked. The MCCC is struggling to keep itself viable and busy while the Town pays for its staff, and most of our population is only a 5-10 minute walk or drive away. How would a facility located in the open space between Gibbons and Bon Accord fare? I would put it in Redwater before an open space. That makes it easier to attract business and employees.

    We need something, but it must be based on a solid, realistic cost analysis and business plan beforehand. You can build it, but can you keep it running without taxpayer help? I hope so. And hope is not a good business model.

  10. Brent and Joe this I totally agree with your comments. The conpect is great but I don’t think any taxpayer wants to have to pay more taxes. Regardless of where this facility is located it will cost everyone in the region more $$$$$.

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