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 RotaryRec@gmail.com.