Rec centre update results in many questions from Council

by Tristan Turner

Council received a significant Recreation Centre update at their first meeting since summer recess. CAO Debbie Oyarzun revealed that Administration will be making a recommendation at Council’s Sept. 8 meeting for the architectural and professional services to move ahead with the planning portion of the project. Oyarzun also noted the town has received 114 responses to their RFP (Request for Proposal) and that 17 companies agreed to attend an eventual on-site meeting to discuss their capabilities and ideas on the concept.

Community engagement part of RFP, Morinville still working with partners

Oyarzun was also careful to mention that engaging with community stakeholders is an important component mentioned in the RFP and that further sessions will occur after the RFP is awarded.

Councillor Stephen Dafoe had questions about just when Council would meet with regional partners, something he said he had requested at the last steering committee meeting prior to the summer break and again in an email to Council and CAO over the summer. Oyarzun replied by saying there is a meeting scheduled for Sept. 1 and that discussions are ongoing. She said Sturgeon County Mayor Tom Flynn commented to Administration about how he feels the working relationship with Morinville on this and other projects has been positive.

Ladouceur raises concerns about sponsorship

Councillor Rob Ladouceur expressed concern that a sponsorship package was sent out without Council viewing it first. “[Decisions] need to be made by us, and I’m not comfortable just approving this [before sponsorship is fully explained to Council].”

Oyarzun said sponsorship options will come back to Council and steering committee before final decisions are made.

Boutestein raises concern about perceived limits to amenities in RFP

Councillor Nicole Boutestein expressed concerns the RFP identifies specifically a running track, arena and a common area/concessions as components in the project.

“As a Council, we have X amount of dollars to spend, but really never once have we made a motion that that is exactly what we want to build,” Boutestein said. “So I’m wondering, what did I miss along the way… to have this in an RFP that’s gone public?”

Oyarzun responded by saying Council had the discussion “several times” at steering committee meetings, at workshops and elsewhere. Oyarzun clarified that those components are what Council has identified that the contractor has to be able to complete at minimum, and that the RFP clarifies that the Town may decide to build other amenities as well. Oyarzun said the RFP did not rule out extra amenities besides those mentioned in the document.

Boutestein countered that a curling rink should have been identified as something to be included in the RFP, despite Oyarzun’s assurances.

Dafoe addresses “elephant in the room” and says project likely needs to be phased

Councillor Stephen Dafoe brought up what he called the elephant in the room, cautioning that previous public meetings may have led residents to believe a full facility is possible within current dollars available.

“Not everything that people may want is doable [immediately],” Dafoe said. “The reality is, unless money falls from the sky from regional partners or sponsors, [building all amenities at once] is not doable with our debt ceiling, with what we have [available], with what we have spent, and what we still need to spend for infrastructure. The sooner we are quite vocal about that, the better.”

Dafoe also added his belief the facility would have to built in phases based on the resources the Town has right now.

Council will return to discussions about the facility and receive an update on Administration’s recommendations from the RFP at their Sept. 8 meeting.

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