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At Morinville Council: Town residents to get first crack at event tickets

Morinville residents will now get first crack at spots for free events such as Oktoberfest, council says. Also: council turns down proposed junior U.S. hockey team.

Thumbs down for WSHL team

Morinville council has turned down a proposal to have the town join an American junior hockey league.

Council voted last week 0-6 against a motion to explore bringing a new Junior “A” level hockey team to Morinville this year as part of a proposed expansion to the Western States Hockey League. Coun. Nicole Boutestein was absent.

The league is an American youth hockey organization looking to expand into western Canada. Representatives spoke to council about establishing a new team in Morinville at the March committee of the whole meeting.

A report to council found that while a new team could bring more revenue and business to town, it could also compete with the town and other local teams for sponsorship dollars.

Outgoing town chief administrative officer Andy Isbister said he would not support this proposal if he were on council. Morinville already had a robust amateur hockey scene, and he questioned whether a town of this size could support another team. The league had not mentioned any local investors for the team and had not discussed it with any of the town’s current hockey organizations.

“They haven’t done their due diligence,” Isbister said.

Isbister recommended focusing on getting the new rec-centre built, and once it was, having residents, not outsiders, call for an additional team if they wanted one.

Coun. Sarah Hall noted with concern that this proposed team would compete with both the town and current hockey organizations for sponsorship dollars.

“It’s the right opportunity at the wrong time.”

While a Junior “A” team would be neat, Coun. Stephen Dafoe said that the uncertainty around the town’s rec-centre and its current ice rink’s ice plant turned him against this proposal. He and other councillors said this idea might be more viable once the rec-centre opened.

Morinville First for shows

Morinville residents will now be first in line when it comes to getting tickets for free community events, council heard last week.

Town council received a report last week on the town’s new “Morinville First” policy for free community event tickets, and voted to have its community services advisory board consider formalizing that policy for all local events, programs, and activities.

Council raised concerns last month on how some residents were being shut out of free community events such as Oktoberfest due to out-of-towners snapping up all the tickets, and asked administration for a solution.

Last week, council got a report from community and protective services director David Schaefer showing that Morinville residents received about 75 and 53 per cent of the tickets for the most recent French Heritage and Oktoberfest events in town, respectively, with most out-of-town guests coming from St. Albert and Sturgeon County.

Schaefer said administration would now take a “Morinville First” policy for free event tickets in response to council concerns, one where tickets would be available to town residents a few days before they were open to the general public. Council could later consider a formal version of this policy that could address issues such as assigned seating.

Big bucks borrowed

Morinville can now put up to $6 million on its credit card to pay for the new rec-centre.

Town council voted 6-0 in favour of creating a $6 million line of credit to pay for the short-term cost of building the new community rec-centre (Boutestein absent).

The rec-centre has been priced at $24.6 million, of which the town still has to pay $18.8 million, town financial services director Shawna Jason told council last week. The soonest the town can borrow such money from the Alberta Capital Financing Authority is May. This line of credit will help pay the bills until then.

Jason said the town planned to borrow up to $11.7 million over five years to pay for the arena and up to $7.1 million over 15 for the field house. Those loans will be smaller if the town collects $6.2 million in sponsorships as planned, and would be paid off using federal gas tax and provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative money.

Council will vote on borrowing to pay for the arena part of the rec-centre in around May.

More conduct review

Council has sent its new code of conduct bylaw to a committee to iron out some of its fine details.

Town council voted 6-0 last week in favour of second reading for its proposed code of conduct bylaw (Boutestein absent). Instead of giving it a third and final vote, council elected to refer the law to its policy and bylaw review committee for more study.

The draft law is meant to replace the town’s current code of conduct policy. The revised Municipal Government Act requires communities to have codes of conduct that are embodied in law and cover specific topics.

Dafoe said this law needed more review before a final vote, as it had some vague elements in it (such as the definition of “insulting words”).

The bylaw will be discussed at the April 24 policy and bylaw review meeting.

Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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