Council gives the go-ahead on Rec centre project; seeks County cooperation

Above – mayor Lisa Holmes address Sturgeon County Council Oct. 11. Also in attendance from Morinville were Councillors Boutestein, Dafoe and Putnam. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

The Town is moving ahead with a plan to initiate a new two-staged arena and rec facility, seeking support from Sturgeon County on the larger portion of the project. This project comes after years of consultations, committee forming, discussions with municipalities and a major recreation needs assessment, all culminating in a final site plan with construction slated to begin early next year.

The initial stage would have the arena, a running track, and a fitness centre, as well as a common area and commercial space. The next phase will be far larger, featuring a fieldhouse, curling rink, multiple swimming pools and additional commercial space. This project, including both stages, is expected to top out at $70 million. The final site plans and construction preparations are all that remain on moving forward with the first phase, following a motion from Council for their project architect, Architecture Tkalcic Bengert (Atb), to be ready for early 2017 construction on phase one.

This first stage will replace the Town’s current arena, which is near death following a recent Town project estimate to keep in operational for five years, at the most. The second, larger community recreation focused stage has been discussed for years, with some support for increased access to recreation in the Town’s recent Recreation Needs Assessment.

The Town will be seeking a variety of different funding opportunities to complete both stages of the project, hoping to get significant provincial and federal funding, in addition to already available MSI and Federal Gas Tax funding, along with donations and capital borrowing.

The Town is limited by a hard debt cap of under $24 million leading the Town to develop the project in stages with multiple sources of funding beyond debt.

The Town will also be seeking funding through the county’s Capital Agricultural / Recreational Facility Development Grant (CARF) program and has requested that the County work with the Town on the second phase of the project going forward, forming a joint business case for federal and provincial governments.

This joint business case would increase the focus on the project being a regional recreation centre. Council expects to hear final decisions from Sturgeon County Council on Oct. 25 about their future involvement in the project, following a recent motion referring the decision for their next council meeting.

These new developments came following a motion from Mayor Holmes on behalf of Council to seek the CARF funding, present the joint business case, and direct Atb to begin final site planning for early 2017 construction. The motion passed 7-0.

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  1. the St Albert pools will only alow sturgeon county residents to enroll there kids in swimming lessons if there is any room left after St Albert residents enroll. population is only getting bigger should be a no Brainer.

  2. Let the games begin!

    At last!!! A decision… One which will not satisfy everyone (of course!), but at least it would appear that we’re not about to incur an insurmountable debt load that even more photo radar would not be able to clear off.

    However, as they say: ‘the devil is in the details’ and this project is no exception. We can probably handle the new arena portion – after all, that’s why this whole concept came about wasn’t it – but funding for the rest is a long, LONG way for being assured.

    One other minor detail appears to have been, if not totally neglected then at least definitely “glossed” over:


    And THAT, ladies and gentlemen, scares the bejabbers out of at least one senior citizen taxpayer!

    Have a good one folks…

  3. Yes; Fountain park is overcrowded and now that they block non-residents from swim classes for at least a week in favour of St. Albert residents a pool here should be the priority over an arena. Sure new ice is nice, could we use one- yes, but we do have one now at least. Swimming is a life skill that local kids don’t have access too especially for parents who can’t do the drive elsewhere and (while I am sure many a Canadian will say otherwise)… hockey isn’t a life skill ;). Plus any kid can spend time in a pool for fun as opposed to hockey where only a certain amount get on the team etc. In terms of keeping kids busy and physically active all year round.. a pool is still the better first choice. I just hope that with the pool being in the second phase they don’t spend too much on the lovely new chunk of ice and then put off the pool indefinitely.

  4. I’m pretty the arena is going ahead first because our current venue is near its end of life. I don’t think this is a slight to people’s wishes. It’s just a reality we have to deal with.

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