by Colin Smith
With the first anniversary of its election coming up on October 29, Morinville Town Council is pushing ahead on three key projects: photo radar policy, the multi-use recreation facility and the organizational review.
Following the April 14 plebiscite in which Morinville electors approved the continued use of photo radar for speed limit enforcement, Council decided on a review and development of a new policy to govern the practice.
Independent Traffic Services has continued to provide and operate photo radar in Morinville on a month-to-month basis and then under a memorandum of understanding while the process was underway.
Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun said the administration has now produced a draft policy based on its research, with input from agencies including the Office of the Solicitor General, RCMP, Capital Region Intersection Safety Partnership and other municipalities.
The draft policy has been submitted to the Traffic and Pedestrian Safety Committee for review and comment.
“I expect that we will be scheduling a workshop with Council and Administration within the next few weeks to go over what Council members have heard from the public and discussing how to incorporate those thoughts, as well as our own ideas, into the policy, said Mayor Lisa Holmes.
Council made the decision to replace the aged Ray McDonald Sports Center with a new regional multi-use recreation centre by 2015. However some residents have questioned the rapidity of the process.
“We had heard from the community that they wanted Council to slow down the process, which we have done, and I feel that we are making truly thoughtful decisions as we consider both the long- and short-term impacts of this project,” Holmes said.
Since June Council members and the administration have been discussing the location of the new facility, meeting with potential partners and evaluating business cases for each location.
“I expect that we will be able to announce our preferred location within the next few weeks,” said the mayor. “Once we have determined a location, we will be able to start the discussions around what amenities the facility will include, the financial impacts and partnerships that will be needed.”
Oyarzun noted that further discussion would likely take place during upcoming budget deliberations.
“This is significant decision for Council that will have a tremendous impact on the community,” she said. “It is more than just recreation and what a facility like this can offer, but also what it can attract – such as increased residential, commercial, business investment, which also triggers employment opportunities, the list goes on.
In the 2014 budget Council approved $100,000 to complete an effectiveness and efficiency review of the operations of the Town of Morinville. The project was awarded to the Edmonton-based Nicholson Applied Management in July, with a final report expected this December.
According to the mayor, the process so far has included interviews with each department within the town, including Council. Council has been told that there will be some ideas for new processes to implement as early as the end of the month.
“We are right in the middle of this project currently and are still anticipating a completion in 2014,” Holmes said. “I expect that we will learn a lot about the operations and efficiencies within the organization and will be able to really look at the level of service that we provide to the community.”