Morinville residents have about a week left to tell town council what they want to see built in their parks and open spaces.
About 40 people were at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre last Thursday night for an open house on the town’s new parks, recreation, culture and trails master plan.
Last updated in 2014, town staffers have written a new version of the plan to account for the two new schools and the rec-centre the town has picked up in recent years.
The plan sets out broad principles for parks and recreation development in Morinville and outlines where trails and other facilities should go.
The plan also includes a list of priorities for indoor and outdoor developments. Community and protective services director David Schaefer said the list was based mostly on community feedback, but also considered demographics, trends in recreation, regional availability and other factors.
Walking/running tracks, a pool and a fitness centre were the top three priorities for indoor facilities, while a seniors centre was last priority. Trails and picnic areas were the top outdoor priorities – trails are some of the most utilized recreational resources in Canada, Schaefer explained – while speed skating ovals were the lowest.
This doesn’t mean lower priority items won’t happen, Schaefer said. Community gardens are way down on the list, for example, but if a garden group comes up with a great plan and the cash to back it, the town could fast-track it before it pursues a high-ranked item like a pool.
The plan says an indoor pool is a high priority item, but it also says a pool won’t be viable until the town hits 15,000 people, Schaefer continued.
“In order for Morinville to do (a pool) on its own, we’ve got to grow 50 per cent bigger,” Schaefer said.
Plan your parksGuests at the open house were asked to write down what amenities should go in each of the town’s 46-some parks spaces, including the 66 acres around the Morinville rec-centre.
“This is a blank slate,” Schaefer said of the rec-centre lands, apart from a toboggan hill and two stormwater ponds.
“We’re grading it in a manner that it can be anything the community really wants it to be.”
Morinville resident Jayson Wood said he was glad to see trails high up on the town’s priority list, as he wanted to see extensive investment in them.
“Everybody can walk, and kids ride bikes,” he said.
“Why not empower them by having these pathways?”
Candice Norlander hoped to see “a really awesome park for kids” on the rec-centre grounds, possibly one with a zip-line. She also hoped to see more bike racks in town parks.
“There are not many places that have bike racks, and I don’t trust society enough to walk away from my bike.”
Robin Alley-Buchner of the Morinville Minor Soccer Association said it would be great to see a big soccer field on the rec-centre lands so the town could host tournaments. She was enthusiastic about the toboggan hill, as Morinville was pretty short on sledding spots.
Bruce Wallace said he hoped the town would partner with community groups to build a storage/training building on the rec-centre lands that sports teams could use.
Schaefer said the town would take comments from the open house and use them to finalize the parks master plan, which would go before council in late March. Council would also get a report on what residents want built on the rec-centre lands, which could lead to a new conceptual plan for that area later this spring.
Anyone who missed the open house can view the information presented at it on the town’s website (www.morinville.ca), and also take a survey on what outdoor features they want to see in which parks. The surveys are due March 4.