What I said and what I did No. 4 – Recreation centre and parks

In reviewing my 2013 candidate package, I made some statements that I think are worth recapping to see how my record held up to what I thought as a candidate.

Given its age and condition, an arena must be a recreational priority for this community.

Council made the arena a priority, deciding very early in our term to replace the aging facility that previous Councils had spent a great deal of money on keeping the roof from further deterioration.

Few people realize, that our entire community discussion was never about to build an arena as part of a rec facility, but about what rec facilities could we build (and afford) to build along with the replacement arena.

Further work towards a regional multi-use facility must be a Council priority over the next term, but the Town and the Rotary Club must not work at cross-purposes to one another in making that a reality.

Early into the term, the Rotary Club strongly advocated for a multi-use facility and provided some good data on the same.

That discussion broadened to the general community and it has taken the last three years to buy the land, work with the County on what role they might play, determine what residents wanted versus what residents could afford, and then trying to get the best bang for the buck with limited dollars.

In the end, the ground is being moved to start a multi-million dollar facility that will include the original replacement arena a full field house (allowing multiple sports and community events) and a running track as well as gym equipment.

The next steps will be sponsorship, grassroots sponsorships, and creating a community vision for the 50-some acres not used for the full build-out of the rec facility.

I see a decent toboggan hill in our future that can double as hillside seating in the summer for community events.

If a pool is not to happen immediately, Council should explore opportunities to use the Town’s community bus to get our residents to and from a pool on a regular and affordable basis. Possible use agreements with the Edmonton Garrison should be explored.

Problems with access and availability of pools and an aging Town bus made this a difficult proposition, but we need to continue to see what we can do for this.

A pool will cost us $28 million – an amount equal to every dollar Morinville can borrow, and policy dictates we can only ever borrow 80% of our limit.

Pool deficit is estimated at $700,000 a year. The county will contribute $175,000 if we have one, leaving us a $425,000 deficit to pay for annually.

Sponsorship could diminish this – but given current finances, a pool is unlikely to happen over the next four years.

In a community with many young families, parks and playgrounds must be a priority. If Council has $300,000 available for playgrounds, let’s get three basic parks going at once, and make some commitments to expand them in future budgets.

We’ve maintained park budgets over the past four years, increasing it the past year.

New park equipment has been installed in town; a new frisbee golf course is opening Sept. 27, a dog park was added over the last four years, as well as $100,000 in upgrades to Heritage Lake.

We need to maintain park budgets at the $100,000 level in the years ahead and continue to slowly connect all of our trails both as a town and a requirement of developers.

Our trail system is well used by our residents. We need to ensure that they are maintained and developed further.

This has been a slow but sure process with trails and lights. It’s never fast enough – of course.