Rec needs assessment says residents want a swimming pool, willing to pay more in tax for new facility

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by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Council has received results back from a large recreation needs assessment involving multiple municipalities ahead of the final stages of the Town’s new Arena/Rec Facility project. The report was prepared by the firm RC Strategies and involved 1,172 responses from the 6,124 that were sent out to both Morinville and Sturgeon County residents.

Another handful were completed by residents in Legal, Bon Accord and St. Albert with additional group surveys and interviews with key stakeholders. Another questionnaire was available online for residents who did not receive the mail out, but that only saw 37 respondents. Of the results received back, 70 per cent lived in Morinville, 26 per cent in Sturgeon County, 3 per cent in Legal and less than one percent from Bon Accord and elsewhere.

The most notable takeaway from the survey is respondants’ overwhelming agreement that there is a need for more indoor and outdoor recreation centres, with 83 per cent of respondents agreeing. But currently, the top barrier to accessing recreation facilities is travel time, with just over one-third of respondents saying that’s what kept them to hitting municipal facilities more frequently.

As it comes to what residents want, ice space, swimming, running and fitness space take the cake. Ice space for hockey is guaranteed by Council to be included in the new project, with fitness/running and swimming being the most popular requests. Walking tracks have already been acknowledged as a very likely addition to the new facility, but swimming pools are still an uncertainty, with a fair amount of trepidation from Council. The survey revealed, however, that swimming took the top two priority spots, with that and running/walking tracks being far ahead ice space.

Here are the top five priorities listed by percentage of respondents who answered “yes” or “unsure if new spaces were needed:

Leisure Swimming Pools – 58%
25m Swimming Tanks – 52%
Walking/Running Tracks – 48%
Fitness/Wellness Facilities – 41%
Ice Arena Facilities – 36%

And it seems residents are willing to pay for more services like swimming in higher taxes, with only one-third of respondents being opposed to a tax hike to enhance recreation facilities, nearly half (45%) saying they would, and the remaining saying they are unsure.

There was a much larger gap between Morinville residents and County residents on this question compared to others, however, with half of Morinville respondents and only a third of County residents saying yes. Those who said yes seem to cap out at about an extra $200 per year, however, with 64% saying they’d be okay with $100, 27% okay with up to $200, and 9% okay with increases beyond that.

Still though, residents felt that the new project should take into account ways to save money on the projects through available grants over only prioritizing what residents would like to see, with 58% of respondents saying that a recreation project should be a higher priority if funding and grants are available that would lower the costs, as opposed to 52% who said if it meets a community request.

The large full report is available on the Town website within the Sept. 13 Council agenda package.

After accepting the report, Council moved to bring it into budget discussions at their retreat Sept. 22 and 23 ahead of their Intermunicipal Affairs Committee meeting with Sturgeon County Council Sept. 28.

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  1. …uh…no. Please no. Oh HELL no. I’d love to hear where they are getting this from.

    But what else do we expect from a group of people who think a roundabout is a good idea.

  2. Council should take a look at the Ardrossan Recreation Complex! I love the spaces for teens and families! Glad they are hearing our requests!

  3. No? Really? I’ve lived here for over 20 years and residents have been saying they wanted a pool LONG before the mccc was built! So really this shouldn’t be s shock to anyone.

  4. Before raising the taxes to fund things like this I feel we need to focus on better and more sustainable infastructure within the town. The arena. The traffic. The roads. The schools. So many more important things need to be addressed before this.

  5. and we don’t pay enough in taxes now, and what are we getting for it honestly. I haven’t seen much improvement in the roads in town nor the painting of the lines either. Where are all our taxes going anyways, to still pay off things that this town didn’t need, like the new MCCC and the updated city hall, which I don’t understand why they could have used the MCCC building for the City Hall, but what do I know

  6. Without any firm costs or any indication of what a pool will cost to operate, this survey doesn’t provide much value as far as I’m concerned. It’s easier to build a pool than it is to pay for it’s operating costs for the next 30+ years. Look at the MCC, it costs over $800,000 a year to operate. Did any of us foresee that when they were building that facility? Operating the MCC AND a Rec Centre with a pool will cost Morinville 1.3 to 1.5 million (on the low end) a year to operate. Do some research on the operational costs of Municipal pools, they are not cheap! Can we afford the capital debt on a pool and the operational expenditures to keep it running?

    Not saying we don’t need a pool in town but I don’t think it’s feasible to operate the MCC and a second large facility. Sell (or give) the MCC away, build the meeting space in to the new Rec centre and take that $800,000 a year and put it towards operating expenses in the Rec centre. You’ll have my support if you can keep the operational costs of Town facilities reasonable.

  7. No?! Where are these poll results coming from? I would rather travel to the base or st Albert to use the pools there. We already pay too much for taxes. Why not increase photo radar or by law infractions prior to raising taxes.

  8. I’m glad this assessment was finally done, although it should have been the first step done a year ago when we asked for it. The assessment also should have had more support from the County so the County residents in the catchment area could have known about the survey (perhaps a brief note or link on the County website could have been done). There was little to no collaboration between the Town and the County councils and I’m not confident that the Intermunicipal Affairs Committee they talk about has any better working climate. There are individual Councillors working hard to find a fair solution and there are others and their Administrators who have been against this from the onset. I don’t have all of the answers but I have kept a close enough eye on this project to know dysfunction when I see it. I hope the next term of Councillors in the Town and County can finally get this right. Morinville residents have made their wishes and needs known. Now it’s up to the leadership to make fiscally responsible decisions and find willing partners. The lack of County respondents gives the County wiggle room to further distance themselves. How convenient.

  9. I am a senior living in Morinville, I own my own home. I am not willing to to pay more to have a new facility build, mine are high enough as it is. If this will be the case, I will seriously have to reconsider owning my own home ! I am not against a facility for Morinville but when residents in this town have to pay for everything that is built it is time we take a step back and say Enough is Enough !

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