Letter: Cultural centre a good value

Editor:

I cannot believe how many people in Morinville and area that still have not attended an event in the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.

I am sure some of them are also the ones who complain at the cost of that same facility on their taxes.

All but one of the events that I have attended at the Cultural Centre was fun and I felt like I got my monies worth.

SO, when I received my email from Festival Place in Sherwood Park, (I have subscribed to keep informed of what’s going on in the region) and saw that the very same act “Hotel California” a tribute band to the Eagles band, was playing there, I of course had to check out what the cost to attend was.

Well here it is.

To sit at a table, which are the first couple of rows, the cost is $38.00. To sit in rows of chairs (theater seating), that are behind the tables the cost is $34.00.

The Cultural Centre did not offer theater seating for this performance but did have the whole place set up in cabaret seating. You were also able to reserve a table if your were purchasing six or more tickets. (tables seat 8)

NOW, the great part.

You could have seen, heard, shared this event with family, friends for the BARGAN price of $25.00. That’s right,$25 bucks, and you would not have had to travel out of town!

Joe Gosselin

Ps. If you are not receiving emails keeping you informed of what is playing at the Cultural centre, call the town to get on the list.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments

comments

12 Comments

  1. As a staff member at the MCCC, I certainly appreciate you taking the time to write this letter, Joe; Thank you! I’m sure folks will think I’m biased, but having experienced nearly every show there was in our facility, I’m constantly astounded by the quality entertainment, and equally baffled as to why there are, at times, seats unsold. With our third performance season nearing its end, we would love to have new faces come out to enjoy a cultural experience (right in your backyard) and see what our facility is capable of providing. As a resident, I am so grateful that the previous council(s) saw the vision of what a facility of this caliber would mean for our community now and years from now. I am very proud of the work we do.

  2. MMCC is something I am surprised that something like this would be built in Morinville…..for so many years (too many to mention) residents here have asked for our town to build a pool….now we need a new rink …..I believe the money spent on the culture center could of been spent wisely elsewhere …..to me and many more people it’s a huge waste of money and I’ve heard it’s not doing as well as expected…..no surprise there just disappointment in bad choices …..just my opinion

  3. Once again I feel compelled to offer up my continued support and belief that our cultural centre is one element of a strong, vibrant, and diverse community. So bear with me as I go through a bit of history to explain the rationale behind previous council decisions.

    During the early 2000s, Morinville did not have asset management plans of any kind. Morinville was not alone. At the time only 8% of Municipalities in North America did !! For example, we needed to replace a fire truck at a cost of around $700,000 as the water pump was shot. We did not have one cent put aside in reserves to replace that truck. Ooops. When we discovered that, the council asked the administration to put together a comprehensive asset management plan. Imagine our horror when the magnitude of the infrastructure $$ that needed significant monies to bring up our vehicle fleet, buildings etc. to any kind of usable standard. Aside from the water, sewer and road maintenance we were in horrible shape. Thank goodness to some very forward looking councils of the 70s and 80s for that. The infrastructure deficit was and continues to be in the millions of $$s. So what did we do?

    We prioritized the problems and began picking away at the worst of them The very first facility to receive funding was the McDonald sports arena. We decided we could put in a 10 – 15 year fix to make the facility usable and provide some basic upgrades. New dressing rooms were added, the lobby of the arena and the curling rink received some much needed refurbishment. About $800,000 at the time. We knew it was a mid term fix but it was the best we could do at the time. Next up … the cultural centre which at the time was the convent.

    We had a comprehensive facility analysis completed and discovered an unholy (pun intended) toxic mix of construction materials. PCBs, asbestos, lead paint, water leaks, black mould just to get started. We were told by the Province that we needed to close the facility immediately. Yikes!! So we paid around $250,000 to remove all the nasty bits. Unfortunately that resulted in an almost complete gut of the facility rendering it useless. So what to do with it?

    We consulted with the community…extensively. And what did you tell us. Keep the facility but don’t spend any money on it. Good grief !! Oh and one other thing we had to contend with. The convent was the third building in Alberta that was designated a Provincial historic cultural resource. Now one for the history buffs. Can you guess which building in Morinville was the first building designated a Provincial Historic Building?

    We went out for requests for proposals to deal with the convent and received two proposals. One was little more than a bandaid..the other..well …what you see today is what we agreed to. Thanks very much to Bob Chauvet and his family, the Town has a wonderful apartment complex in a historic building downtown with a brand new apartment building currently under construction, The most effective way to create a people friendly downtown is to introduce people to live downtown. Couer de Morinville that was started at the same time builds on that philosophy.

    OK. So there is the history. Public works building/addition and renovation of the Town Office/Library have occurred since as a result of the asset management plan but I will now go back to the long term funding and thought process of the MCCC. We knew the Ray McDonald had a mid term fix and that our cultural centre needed immediate attention. So what did we do to replace the cultural facility?

    We were very fortunate to receive a Building Canada grant to build the MCC from the Federal Government that meant the feds contributed $3 million(Thanks again to Brian Storseth our MP), the Province contributed $3 million ( thank you Ken Kowlaski our MLA) and the remaining $6 million was to be contributed by the Town. (Thank you residents of the Town) Half of the Towns contribution was a 5 year debenture which has an annual payment of ~$580,000.00 per year. Only two years left to go!! The other funds were taken by an internal borrowing which is being repaid by the photo radar revenue and other fundraising initiatives. About 5 years worth of the revenue generated by photo radar revenue. ( This of course is being hotly contested right now with the upcoming vote. Which by the way …I support the continuance of photo radar in its present form)

    So the long term plan was to pay back the 5 year debenture with tax $$s so we could use those funds to build the new recreational complex that we knew would be required in the 20015-16 time frame. AND to also use the photo radar funds to build the new complex as well. Amazing that the almost $1 million dollars needed to support the new recreational complex were put in place 5 years ago !! Using the same $$s that we were used to build the CCC.

    You can be disappointed that “bad choices” were made to build a wonderful cultural facility at the time it was needed to replace our obsolete and in-habitual facility along with a long term financial plan to address the long term sustainability of our community…. but I will disagree with you all day long.

    We were advised very clearly when the CCC was built that it would take 5 years to become what it will be. 5 years to establish it’s place in the market and 5 years to get the people of the community to take pride and ownership of the services and events. As my friend Joe G. has mentioned in his editorial, he still keeps contact with those facilities that are in “competition” to our facility but now attends the events in Morinville instead… or perhaps as well. Joe was always a huge supporter of a local arts and cultural scene and the MCC during its conception and construction.

    Our Council today only needs to address the last remaining big ticket infrastructure renewal project to bring the infrastructure deficit back into balance that was identified by the initial asset management plan that was created almost 14 years ago. I wish this council Gods Speed as they move forward. For what it is worth… I would suggest they build a wonderful $60 million or so facility that will move our community forward in a way that was only a pipe dream just over a decade ago. How would/could they do this??

    The Federal Government has just announced a new program that can fund this magnificent new facility for our community. The new Building Canada fund would ensure that 1/3 of the capital funding would come from the Federal Government. 1/3 from the Provincial Government and the remaining third from the municipal governments. Now we need to get Sturgeon County to pay their fair share of the $20 million that is left for the Municipal portion. Lets say $10 million. That would leave the Town of Morinville with a $10 million dollar debenture to cover our share of the capital costs. Easily inside of the borrowing limits that are imposed on the Town by the Province. Debt servicing would also be well inside the limits established by the Province for municipalities.

    As I mentioned earlier, previous councils have ensured that $850,000 per year will be available for repayment of that capital loan will be available once the CCC is paid for. Two years form now!! This council can get a new debenture with loan repayments of $600,000 with a fixed interest rate of about 3% for the entire 15 year term of the debenture. Leaving $250,000 per year for operating costs. All they need to do is to convince Sturgeon County to pay their % share of the operating costs that their residents use the facility and …””bobs your uncle””.

    If $250,000 from the existing dollars being spent, plus Sturgeons contribution per year is not enough to cover the operating costs, (and I doubt it is even close) then this council has the opportunity to increase taxes by 1.5 % for the next 5 years that would be dedicated to the operating costs of the new facility.

    Gotta love it when a plan comes together !

    • In MY opinion, this is a rather long-winded way of FINALLY admitting that photo radar here in beautiful downtown Morinville has ALWAYS been about the money!! It has NEVER, despite whatever the ‘Talking Heads’ insist on spouting, been about safety.

      Thanks Lloyd, you’ve FINALLY come through with a wee bit of truth on this issue!

      Have a nice day…

  4. Joe, I know you know this, but it’s still important to disclose.

    The Hotel California tribute band did not give a special discount to Morinville just because they liked us. The full $38 ticket price was still payed, it was just payed by general taxpayers in the community (who didn’t go to the show but still pay for it).

    In fact, the CCC operates on a cost recovery basis of less than 30%. So for example, every $25 ticket someone buys is matched with another $75 from the community general tax dollars.

    So, I guess whether it’s a good value depends on perspective. If you are going to a lot of shows, I would say it’s good value to have someone else paying for the majority of your ticket price. For people who like doing recreational activities and have to drive 30 minutes to Servus Place in St Albert, it’s not such a good deal.

  5. OMG… I was not aware of that Sean. Am I okay with that? NO. I think a can of worms was just opened.

  6. Lloyd,

    I agree that it’s important to have a community space to hold events, meetings, shows, etc. However, most communities of 10,000 people solve this by building a nondescript building for $4-5 million. You decided to build a $12 million+ building that needs the constant staffing costs of 7 full time employees, which actually had the perverse effect of making rental rates unaffordable for the very groups who asked for a meeting space.

    You are quick to talk about fiscal responsibility, but let’s look at what you’re really saying. When presented with an option between a reasonable and option that would be taken by most other communities, you decided to go full-bore and build a flagship facility. You point out in your post that you did all this without a single dollar in the bank.

    This is akin to someone with a bank balance of $0.13 deciding they want to buy a car. Instead of buying a good, reliable Honda Civic for $15,000, they borrow $120,000 for a BMW M3 for with absolutely ZERO down payment, and then they realize they can’t even afford to do the regular maintenance on a BMW.

    I don’t think you’ll find too many people who will agree that is sound financial planning.

  7. Mr. Bertschi you seem so excited about when a plan comes together! Back to reality, it would be beneficial for everyone to remember that we all pay FEDERAL taxes, PROVINCIAL taxes AND MUNICIPAL taxes and other various taxes such as gas, franchise fees, etc. on limited incomes. It would good for everyone to remember that there is NO FREE money!

    We read everyday, about the HUGE capital deficit of both the Federal and Provincial Governments and I wonder where this will end?

    From a Tax Payer Who Can’t Afford a $60 million sport facility

  8. So what Sean is saying is that the tax payers who don’t attend events are paying for ticket subsidies for those who do attend??? That needs to stop!

  9. Tim, that is correct.

    However, in no way am I disagreeing with Joe’s post. I have been to a few events, as has my wife (no where near as many as we would have liked to attending had time permitted), and they were great!

    I do think any discussion of value should include the full cost though, including the cost being borne by families working hard to make ends meet who don’t have time to attend the shows they are paying for.

  10. I as a tax payer do not agree with subsidizing anyones entertainment bill. As was once brought up by the Town, they would like to attract those from outside of the community to attend these events as well… Should the Morinville tax payer subsidize their costs as well??

    • So Tim, what, pray tell, are you going to do about this rather odious revelation??

      You see my friend, WE, the taxpaying RESIDENTS of this great community must sit back idly while the NON-RESIDENT senior members of Morinville’s Administration CONTINUE to squander our precious tax dollars! And did you know that even our ELECTED, RESIDENT Councillors cannot pry answers from the lips of these people!

      Incredible as it may seem, Administration continues to roll along its merry way, ignoring even those WE have elected to represent our interests…

      UNBELIEVABLE!

Comments are closed.