I have been a resident and a taxpayer of Morinville since August 1st, 1981. I have been a very active volunteer in my community, having been involved with hockey, baseball, the Museum, the Historical Society, and numerous community projects and events.
During the past municipal election our present Mayor and Council said they wanted to interact with citizens, get out into the community and listen to whatever issues or concerns residents wanted to discuss.
I attended both nights of the Town of Morinville Budget Open Houses in February and made a presentation to Council regarding the rumours on the street concerning the replacement of the Ray McDonald Sports Center. Some of the rumors buzzing about are:
The Ray McDonald Sports Center is unsafe. The Ray McDonald is perfectly safe and there is no rush to replace it. An engineering study was done on the present structural conditions and this study cannot be released to the public. The study will be released. No decisions have been made. Then, a new facility will open for the 2015 hockey season.
The rumors go on. The Town has already made the decision and we are locked into an arena with Morinville going it alone. The Town does not want anything to do with a regional recreation facility. Or, the Town does want to be part of a regional recreation facility. There are ongoing discussions with the County on a regional partnership and a recreation facility. Or, there are no discussions taking place with the County.
The answer is a new arena and curling club. The answer is a new multi-use regional recreation centre. User groups want an arena only. Or, user groups are strongly in favour of a multi-use regional recreation facility. A go it alone arena is best because that’s what Morinville can afford. Or, a regional facility is best because that’s where all the government grants are.
There is no shortage of rumors but there sure is a shortage of clear information.
Here are some fresh rumors that I heard in the last two days: The Town has already purchased the land needed to build the new arena and it’s a done deal. And, the Town has already signed a contract for an arena with a builder.
This is one of the most important decisions for our town. What is fact? What is fiction?
Going all the way back in time to 1957 and the days of Tiger Goldstick, I was a proud member of the “Safety Patrol” at Athlone Elementary School in Edmonton. Our primary goal was to get fellow students safely across the street. The Safety Bear taught us to Stop, Look and Listen. It was good advice then and it usually worked out pretty well.
I think it is time for our Mayor and Council to Stop, Look and Listen. It is time to stop the plans for a go it alone arena, if those are the plans. It is time to look at whether an arena or a regional recreation centre is what is best for Morinville, and it is time to listen to what everyone thinks.
On Saturday, February 15 our Mayor commented on Facebook: “While it’s a shame that we will eventually have to say goodbye to our Ray McDonald Centre, I think we should all be excited about the possibilities of recreation in our community in the near future. Further, I think this is a perfect opportunity for our youth to step up and advocate for what they believe the future of recreation in Morinville should look like.” Other parts of the Mayor’s Facebook comments that day were: “Our arena is not condemned; the community’s safety is our first priority.” “Timelines: No date has been set to close the Ray McDonald Centre.” And “Our priority is planning for the future and putting our resources there”.
Who is doing the planning? What is being planned? What are the resources that are being put there? And, are taxpayers having a say?
The Town of Morinville will be undertaking a town wide census starting April 15th and the hope is that we will be around 9,500 citizens. Using this projected number of residents it may mean we would be spending 10 to 15 million dollars to meet the recreational needs for hockey and curling. The current hockey and curling numbers account for only about 6% of our population while we will be asking 100% of taxpayers to pay the bill?
I am a huge supporter of facilities for hockey and curling. But we also have to think of the future as Morinville grows. Do our Mayor and Council really think that hockey and curling facilities are going to meet the recreational needs of all residents as we grow beyond 9,500? As Morinville grows our recreation facilities also need to grow. We should be planning to support the health and fitness of everyone from babies to seniors. Our recreational facilities and programs also need to be expanded so we can keep and attract young families, businesses and employees.
I just want to clear the air so that we can all look at what is the best for our town. It is time for our Mayor and Council to Stop, Look and Listen. It is time to provide us all with the necessary factual information that shows whether a go it alone facility or a regional multi-use recreation facility is best for our growing community.
I would also ask the citizens of Morinville to take our elected officials up on their offer to meet and discuss issues that are important to us all. This is one for sure. Please get involved.