Letter: Back to the Past … Arena Style?

The Arena/Multi-Use Recreation Facility Project Large User Group General Public Meeting took place on October 28th. About 120 people showed up. Good crowd. Open format. Plenty of opportunity for questions.

Time to “vision” and get “excited”.

Lets’ get rolling. How much money do we have? You know… for the “visioning” and getting “excited” part.

We have $13.75 million budgeted for the project… with a borrowing limit of $22 million. The Chamber of Commerce President asks if the $13.75 million is part of the $22 million borrowing limit. There is a long answer.

Those of us with an almost visceral aversion to meetings with long names… have also developed an unfortunate skepticism for really long answers to very short questions.

How much money do we have? Unclear.

How many paying partnerships do we have? Unclear.

We are told that this project has been the “number one priority” for over two years.

We are also told that it is important to be prudent and responsible with tax dollars.

One brave soul asks if there will be two sheets of ice. Nope.

Another intrepid citizen asks if there will be a curling rink. Lots of words. Felt like a nope.

One clear answer surfaces eventually. This project is to be “phased”. Phase “A” is an arena… with one sheet of ice.

Yep. One sheet of ice. Some attendees looked unfazed by the news. Others looked tazed.

There was a whole thing about “phases” and how “phases” with numbers are different than phases with letters. Don’t ask.

There were no details on other “phases”. There was no talk of longer term budget strategies for capital allocation targets to pay for other “phases” over time. There were no details on a fully completed multi-use facility.

It felt like “Prudent” and “Responsible” had left the room.

In short? The October 28th meeting did not unveil any plan for the completely phased build-out of a multi-use facility by 2017… or 2018… 2022… or 2025 for that matter.

There are Councillors who have insisted on an open process. They deserve our gratitude.
They also deserve proper planning from Administration. Does a costed and phased draft proposal for the completion and operation of a multi-use project even exist? Unclear.

Maybe there still is a multi-use recreation facility in Morinville’s future.

Saw a T-shirt this summer. “I’m not a pessimist. I’m just an optimist with experience.”

Paul G. O’Dea
Morinville Resident

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  1. Over the past few years I have noticed that Paul G. O’Dea is usually quite reticent about sending “Letters to the Editor” which provide commentary on subjects of interest to this Community. However, when he does so his comments are ALWAYS right on the money and this one is definitely no exception. Very well said Paul!

    I too attended the October 28th meeting and while I was initially interested in becoming a member of the new Steering Committee, I have decided that said Committee has all the signs of becoming much like a certain “Citizens Participation in our Town’s Finances” Committee (named “The Finance and Audit Committee”) i.e. – really quite useless in the end.

    Our Mayor and CAO should remember that one!

    One other point and this one concerns the “Morinville/Sturgeon County Regional Recreation Facility Citizens Group”:

    I fully support your thoughts on establishing a separate, at-arms-length, organization to operate any new facility. Morinville’s Administration has shown itself to be basically incapable of operating our Cultural Centre without incurring additional staffing costs and we do NOT need this kind of management running any new facility. However, Ms. Hnatiw of this “Citizens Group” should remember that while she has good support from any number of citizens, she definitely does NOT speak for all of us.

    Have a nice day…

  2. Thank you Mr. O’Dea for sharing your concerns. It is always disappointing when we hope for answers and are left with more questions. Mr. O’Brien, thank you for your constant interest in local current affairs and for sharing your position. I have learned that staying abreast of municipal affairs and encouraging community involvement can be very time consuming. I would never presume to speak for everyone. I would, however, encourage everyone to speak now. Whether citizen, Councillor or Administrator, we are all just ordinary people trying to do our best and holding each other accountable along the way.

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