Ask-A-Candidate No. 3

by Ashley Janes

Q: “Because the town is growing, large development projects such as a recreation facility have been suggested to council. Undertakings like these are costly. Where do you propose the funding for development projects come from?”

James O’Brien
“Sorry, but we shouldn’t even consider such a project unless one of three things happens: a well-heeled corporate donor pops up; the Province gives us much of the cash; or we raise property taxes big time, for construction. Operating costs — another matter. Given the Cultural Centre’s numbers we would be pushed to make this work. If anyone disagrees with this, simply examine our budget. Sure, according to Provincial Statutes we could borrow up to about $17 million to finance such a project, but without one of the three previously mentioned factors coming into play, Morinville will extremely hard-pressed to pay it off.”

Brent Henry
“A new recreation facility is a large capital project that is well beyond the resources of Morinville now and in the foreseeable future. Thus, we must attract funding and support from the federal and provincial governments, as well as actively seek strong partnerships with industry, Sturgeon County and nearby communities that may want to use whatever we build. Once built, our tax base is small and can’t maintain a project of this size on our own, so partners are crucial. We need to start now in order to be ready to go forward when we want to (or must) build.”

Stephen Dafoe
“I think it is important that we not only look at the development costs but operating costs as well. Building the cultural centre was an equal split between federal, provincial and municipal governments. It’s a great partnership to get the thing built, but now we have operating costs nearing $800,000 per year (less loan repayment) carried by our ratepayers. Whether a rink, field house, pool or other facilities, we need to be certain we can build and operate it without bankrupting the town or its ratepayers. See my site for more on this.”

Nicole Boutestein
“The first step in this process is the residents of Morinville will have to determine what they see as a priority. Once this has been decided we have to start applying for the eligible grants, such as regional partnership grants, provincial MSI funding, Building Canada Fund as well as seek out potential sponsorship. Council will need to ensure that the residents (taxpayers) will not be left with a huge tax burden.”

Gord Putnam
“These types of projects require buy-in from all of the stakeholders in our community so that any project moving forward has the sense of community ownership. The manner in which such a project is funded becomes the responsibility of the community, including our citizens, business community and local and provincial governments. If we partner with other citizens, businesses and municipalities in our region our chances of financial success are greatly enhanced.”

Brennan FitzGerald
“Morinville has done well with regards to utilizing federal and provincial grants fully; helping to alleviate some of the financial pressure on taxpayers- but this isn’t enough. The fact is that construction of a rec. centre means digging into the pockets of residents. We have to prioritize our goals as a community. A recreational centre isn’t going to please everyone so far as entertainment in Morinville goes. Our youth, young families, and elders need access to a self-sustaining entertainment option beyond a sports facility. We have to consider what’s practical for Morinville and what’s fair and respectful to the taxpayer.”

Barry Turner
“A recreation facility would be cost effective with regional partners to share construction and operating costs. Provincial grants will only be given to regional facilities, and grants should be used wherever possible. Capital reserves should be used if available to reduce reliance on debt. Funds from recreation off site levies may also be used for this purpose so additional development helps cover future demands. Debt is a last resort and where possible a facility should be built in phases to spread costs over budget years. Innovative financing approaches and corporate sponsorship opportunities should also be sought to reduce debt servicing costs.”

Joseph Trapani
“Council should look at their Recreation Agreement and Memo of Understanding with the Sturgeon County, and see how we can work together to build a facility. We must build what we need and would use to its fullest, not like the CCC. $12 Million and not many residents are using it. The money should come from local sponsors, Town reserves, and yes a surtax on our yearly tax bill, outline the cost of the facility and, when it is paid off, the residents of Morinville stop paying for it. Plus, a vote if the residents of Morinville want this project and are willing to pay for it.”

Ruth Shymka
“The public is looking for a multi-purpose recreational facility; however, we can not simply draw monies from a budget where funds are not there. Unfortunately the high overrun costs of our Civic Centre and Cultural Centre have set us in a position where funding is not immediately available. Few residents want to see large tax hikes. Our new council will be busy with a difficult task in the first few months of work. Economic responsibility and development, investigations into possible project partners, and accurate projections of costs will set us in a positive direction to realizing desired future developments.”

David Pattison
“The Alberta Capital Finance Authority was established by the Alberta Government to provide municipalities with flexible funding for capital projects. Municipalities borrow money from ACFA to fund capital projects such as the Community Cultural Centre and any proposed recreation centre ( Town must collaborate on this recreation centre with neighboring communities to access other funding. As Councillor, I would recommend a motion to establish a capital reserve for this project. Working regionally, we also need to look at federal and provincial grants as well as fund raising. I commend the Rotary and others for the work completed to date.”

Wayne Gatza
“Large development projects will require funding from more than one source. The Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI) provides funding to municipalities for such projects to help with the costs however we will still need to partner with the private sector (Rotary, Business & Stakeholders) & Town money. We would also need to partner up with our local community groups to brainstorm a fundraiser event we could conduct together. Other things such as Sponsorship like Name Rights of the facility would also be a way to bring in money. At the end of the day we need a well thought out plan we can execute in a timely manner.”

Jackie Luker
“This project will only be successfully built with capital from government, community, sponsorships, donations, and business. Partnerships within the entire region will be crucial. If the facility owned the property that it was located on and sold allotments to hotels, restaurants and shopping centers this could help pay for some of the facilities expenditures. It’s possible that over time the entire tax base from this new business hub could be used to run the operational costs of the facility, so it becomes self-sufficient. The economic spinoff would be significant for our region. We need to find creative ways to make this work and believe that there are no problems only solutions.”

Brandy Keenleyside
“In regards to a large recreational facility we would need to draw resources from government funding and also from more than one municipality to ensure that the majority of the financial burden would not be put on taxpayers.”

Rob Ladouceur
“There are four options to funding future development projects. The first is tax increases, which I do not support. The other three are taking from reserves, applying for grants and taking out debentures. So long as interest rates remain low and we are only borrowing to build and not operate, using a combination of the three makes sense. It is very important that all of our future developments are done in a proper time line so that we can ensure residents we are not raising taxes to pay for developments.”

Jennifer Laurence
Candidate did not provide a response to the question by deadline.

Lawrence Giffin
Candidate did not provide a response to the question by deadline.

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  1. Both the capital and operational costs of such an endeavour make it quite expensive and reasonably impractical for our town to afford a project such as this. Our mill rates are already among the highest in the Capital Region.

    Recently there was a Regional Recreation evaluation done by Stantec in collaboration with the entire County community including all five municipalities and the County (the Garrison resources were not considered). It is very informative.

  2. LOVE the allotment idea Jackie, that is one that never occurred to me. You are right, our community needs to become creative to make this work!

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