Federal grant to pay for Morinville park improvements

A $750,000 Canada Community Revitalization Fund Grant to provide a washroom and changeroom for splash park

by Colin Smith

Morinville Park improvements will go ahead, but the town is getting less of a bang for its grant-provided bucks than anticipated.

At its regular meeting on Tuesday council passed an amendment to the park pavilion capital project to reduce its scope in the face of increased costs.

A $750,000 budget for the park pavilion, completely funded by a Canada Community Revitalization Fund Grant, was approved in April as part of the overall 2022 capital budget.

The Morinville park pavilion was projected as a destination building to provide a focus for the Ray MacDonald Sports Complex, containing a four-season viewing area looking out over the spray park, playground and recreational multi-sport surface.

Plans also included fully accessible washrooms and change rooms to replace the current outdoor washroom and maintenance space for the spray park controls and facility maintenance equipment now housed in a pump shed.

However, no bids were received after the project was tendered as a design-build in June.

Contacting potential contractors for feedback, the administration was told the project was not feasible because of high building material costs, material shortages and tight deadlines.

It then came up with the plan approved by Council for a project that will come within the $750,000 budget provided by the grant and can be completed during the remainder of this year’s construction season.

This is to replace the current seasonal porta-potties with a permanent prefabricated washroom facility similar to those at the Fish and Game Pond and Heritage Lake. A change room facility is also possible.  These would be unheated but available year-round.

In addition, enhanced landscaping would potentially include shade structures, trees, picnic and seating areas, and new walkways.

“The quote that we have would have would cover both washroom and change room and leave some money for landscaping on top of that,” said infrastructure services manager Jordan Betteridge. “But a quote is just a moment in time. We won’t be sure until the contract is signed.”

The estimated cost of the reduced scope project is $500,000 to $650,000. Of the $750,000 in funding, about $55,000 has already been committed for engineering, planning, design, and procurement support, leaving some $695,000 in uncommitted funds.

If the final quoted costs of even the prefabricated washroom and other incidentals exceeded the approved budget, the idea would be to revert to doing the landscaping only, at an estimated cost of about $75,000 to $200,000, and returning unused funds to the Canada Community Revitalization Fund.

Compared to the original park pavilion project, annual operating costs would be reduced by $10,000, from $30,000 down to $20,000. These costs would include daily washroom inspections, cleaning and sanitary tank servicing.

Deputy Mayor Ray White moved the motion to see the project go ahead.

“If you can get good value for your dollar from another level of government, I think it’s money well spent,” he said. “Yes, it’s going to cost more in upkeep, but at the same time, we are tasked with providing good facilities for the people who live in this town.”

Councillor Jen Anheliger spoke in opposition to the motion, pointing to both the reduction in the scope of the project and the ongoing operating costs.

The project would meet a need for washroom facilities to be used by hockey players and skaters in the winter, said Councillor Scott Richardson.

The vote on the motion saw Mayor Simon Boersma, Deputy Mayor Ray White, and Councillors Stephen Dafoe, Maurice St. Denis and Scott Richarson in favour, with Councillor Anheliger opposed. Councillor Rebeccca Balanko was not at the meeting.

The long and twisting tale of the park pavilion began in 2020 when it was envisioned as part of the refurbishment of the splash park, playground, outdoor washrooms, and pump shed and included in the 2021 Operating and Capital Budget.

However, the project was cancelled in May of 2021 when projected construction costs ballooned from an initially budgeted $285,000 to a projected $998,400, with funding redirected to the multi-use facility.

In July 2021, Morinville applied for a Canada Community Revitalization Fund grant for the park pavilion project, which was approved earlier this year.

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