County signs on to Town Rec Centre project

by Tristan Turner
Morinville News Correspondent

Sturgeon County is throwing their hat in with the Town of Morinville to develop a business case for Morinville’s major new recreation centre project, following a unanimous Oct. 26 vote from Sturgeon County Council to develop a business case for the regional recreation centre together. This decision came after a request from Morinville’s Council to their county counterparts to develop the business case together to create more leverage in requesting funding/grant opportunities from the federal and provincial government.

The Town will also seek 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. This joint business case will increase the focus on the project being a regional recreation centre, but the scope of future collaboration on this recreation centre remains unclear.

The rec centre project is moving ahead in two stages, the first being a smaller project to replace the current aging arena and install common areas and a running track. The County is only involved in this stage in that they contributed to servicing costs as part of an agreement with the Town on jointly servicing the Town and County’s neighbouring properties, the latter of which will house County-owned buildings.

The second and much larger stage, involving a second sheet of ice, a large aquatic centre, a field house a curling rink and more common space, may now go forward as a regional project between the County and the Town. Many future details about the potential for direct capital and operational funding from the county are unclear at this stage; however, despite the recent Regional Recreation Needs Assesment Survey commissioned by Morinville that noted significant demand for more recreation space both in town and throughout the county.

Currently, there is a rocky relationship in cooperative funding for services offered in Morinville between the Town and County, with Morinville’s Council previously encouraging the County to contribute far more than their $3,000 annual allowance to the Morinville Library.
Despite this, Morinville’s Council seems to remain optimistic about a future of greater county involvement, with a round of warm comments directed from Morinville’s Council to their county counterparts following the announcement at Morinville Council’s Oct. 26 meeting.

Regardless of the County’s role going forward, Morinville will break ground on construction of the first phase of the development in early 2017.

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  1. As a hockey parent/coach and referee here in town, I am glad to hear we are finally doing this. I hear so many comments about our rink on and off the ice. We need this badly. My son is in novice and we spend so much time in the rink and others as well. Ours is so far behind. Hopefully we can start next season in the new rink.

  2. Glad that the new rink is finally on the go. But It would of been nice if the county had kicked some money in for the construction (more than they have already for the utilities to be hooked up). Probably would of been able to build out the rink fully instead of it only looking like it will be a partial build and some more to built in a later phase.

  3. The county has agreed to join on the business case and grant application for federal and provincial grant money. A date has not been established by the province for that, but typically they are early spring. The arena replacement part is set to break ground in the spring after the servicing is in.

  4. It is great to see the County participating in the business case for the rec center. One thing that is nagging at me is an apparent lack of agreement for the Town to annex the land they have purchased, or a tax sharing agreement for that land. If talks have been happening in this regard they are certainly a well kept secret.

    As it stands, the Town owns the land in the County, but the County is the taxing authority. Should additional development occur on the Town owned lands, say a hotel for example, only the County would get the tax revenue from the hotel. If the hotel was built on the adjacent County owned lands that was serviced jointly by the two communities, the County would also be the sole benefactor of the tax revenue.

    It is great the two Municipalities have agreed to cost share on the utility servicing of both properties. It occurs to me that an agreement should also be in place, prior to the servicing of the land, that would benefit both communities when future development occurs due to the servicing that is in place. A joint economic development zone based on the jointly serviced land. Shared cost/benefit and risk/reward.

    This agreement should also include any future lands that are developed due to any extension of the servicing. For example, a future industrial park to the North, South or East of the serviced lands that can only happen because water and sewer capacity is available.

    These type of agreements are in place in other jurisdictions. Joint economic zones are partnerships that require a very strong level of cooperation and trust. For reference check out JEDI in the Wetaskiwin area.

    I believe it is better to develop such an agreement for this type of economic development zone at the front of a project like this rather than waiting until later when something tangible comes along.

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