by Colin smith
with photos by Lucie Roy
Morinville Town Council has decided to sell the Ray MacDonald Sports Center.
At its March 10 regular meeting Councillors voted unanimously to direct the Administration to put it up for public sale.
A group of investors has offered to purchase the centre, including the ice arena and curling arena, for a total of $200,000.
Once a sale agreement is reached, the investors would provide a $25,000 down payment, and annual payments of $35,000 for five years.
The group intends to offer arena ice time for hockey training programs, hockey games, and tournaments.
Brad White, Morinville’s Director of Planning and Economic Development, told Council their business model is not expected to compete with the Morinville Leisure Centre Landrex Arena. There will be a non-compete agreement on ice rentals and rates.
The group plans to have the curling rink operate as usual and would enter into a new five-year agreement with the Morinville Curling Club, starting in the fall of 2020.
The sale would not include the parking lot, outdoor rink and playground/splash park.
The new owners would be responsible for the full cost of property taxes and applicable business taxes, as well as full liability and risks.
They also have the opportunity to sell naming rights for the facility.
White stated that estimates of the market value of the centre and land from two independent appraisers and the Town appraiser came in between $500,000 and $1,500,000.
In response to questions from Councillors, he said that the wide variance in the appraisals resulted from different criteria used in determining the figures, for example, whether they were based on the highest-value potential use of the property.
Although the $200,000 on offer is below appraised value, other factors to consider include expected demolition costs of up to $2 million and the $170,000 per year cost of operating the building even when it is not being staffed, White added.
Morinville would also receive about $4,100 per year in non-residential property taxes plus utility revenue from arena operations.
The Town currently has a $184,805.08 debenture on the property, with the final payment set to be made in August of 2022. Those payments would continue to be paid, as paying the debenture off with the proceeds of the sale would result in financial penalties.
The sale of the center will need to be advertised two weeks prior, as notice is required when public land is being sold for less than market value. If other purchase offers are made for the property these can also be considered.
Morinville electors then have an opportunity to bring forward a petition for a vote on whether or not the measure should go through. Such a petition would need the signatures of 10% of the electors and need to be filed within 60 days of the last day of advertising.