by Colin Smith
A Heritage Lake development plan created by U of A students was hailed at Morinville Council’s Committee of the Whole Meeting Tuesday.
The five members of the graduate student team presented the Heritage Lake Recreational Area Concept Plan to Council and a video of what the area could potentially look like.
The University of Alberta School of Urban and Regional Planning offered to have its students develop a Heritage Lake plan for the Town of Morinville. Spencer Aiken, Shirley Lie, Jake Muffly, Premita Paudyal and Jaclyn Winter worked on it as a school project during the university’s winter term, along with their academic advisers.
Initiation of the project followed an April 14, 2020 Council decision to have the Administration develop the framework for a new Heritage Lake area concept plan by the second quarter of 2021.
Its purpose was to develop a conceptual plan for Heritage Lake as an enhanced year-round recreation centre for residents with regional tourism potential.
The students looked at federal, provincial and local planning documents and case study reviews of other lakeside recreation developments in creating it.
They also took into account the results of the Morinville residents’ survey. There were 466 responses to this online public survey done from March 13 to 17. Eighty per cent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Morinville should invest in enhancing Heritage Lake.
The concept arrived at by the students envisioned the development of the area based on one of three focuses: Gather, Green and Go.
The Gather focus would see an emphasis placed on providing gathering spaces throughout Heritage Lake to encourage social events and community building. Green puts the focus on the natural environment and related educational opportunities. Go emphasizes year-round recreational opportunities to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
Several enhancements are common to all of them: a four-metre-wide multi-use trail; pedestrian priority area; six-metre-wide roadway access to the boat launch; improved entry and signage; and a connection to Morinville’s trail system.
Other possible amenities include a raised boardwalk, sandy beach, gazebo, playground, birdwatching pier, winter skating area, rental and concession, dog park with water access, and naturalized wetland.
The concept plan suggests implementation take place in stages, with some enhancements to be made in the short-term, one to three years, others in the medium-term, four to ten years, and long-term, ten-plus years.
Following the presentation Councillor Sarah Hall expressed sentiments of appreciation shared by other members of Council.
“I was blown away,” she said. “There have been plenty of plans that have come our way, from our Rec Master Plan to our Transportation Master Plan. This by far was the most thorough and the most intriguing of any we have seen. To have three different ideas that could be implemented deeply impressed me. That video was the icing on the cake.
“I’m hoping that in 10-15 years we can have a completed project because of the work you guys have done. So I just want to thank you so much. This is very exciting to see, and the work is stellar.”
During further discussion it was noted that at present there are no financial resources allocated for Heritage Lake enhancements.
Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne said that looking at the funding possibilities could take place in the next budget process.
Mayor Barry Turner pointed out that the development envisaged in the Hasting Lake concept plan would take many years to complete, adding, “It certainly has opened a lot of eyes to what’s possible.”
The plan was received by Council as information.