Morinville will build a new outdoor hockey rink with the help of some $1.2 million in stimulus cash from the province.
The province announced this $500 million program as part of its COVID-19 recovery plan in July. The program is meant to fund up to five capital projects per community that have to start construction this year or the next, would not proceed without this program, would not require operational funding from the province and would not cause municipal tax increases.
Town council spent about two hours debating how to use the roughly $1.2 million in funding Morinville could get under this program, considering but rejecting ideas to pave trails, replace the splash park and fix the tennis court.
Council ultimately supported Coun. Lawrence Giffin’s move to apply for $530,000 to add curb extensions to 100 Ave., $395,000 for a new concrete outdoor hockey rink, $285,000 for a house-like “destination building” at the outdoor rink, and $85,000 for trails on 100 St. north of 105 Ave. – a total of about $1.3 million. Council directed that any costs not covered by the province’s grant come from the town’s safety initiative reserve and other sources.
The curb extension project is a safety initiative that has been on the town’s unfunded list for two years. It would see the town add bulbs to sidewalks along 100 Ave. so drivers could better see people crossing the road.
The trails on 100 St. north of 105 Ave. were another safety improvement. Coun. Stephen Dafoe said people are currently walking on the road there because there is no trail in the area.
Council heard the outdoor rink at the former Ray McDonald Sports Centre is so old and cracked it might not even last this winter. The washroom building next to it (a converted sea can) is likewise frequently vandalized and not fit for use.
Infrastructure services general manager Iain Bushell showed council how it could repair or replace the current asphalt-based rink for $43,000 to $270,000, but would get at most 15 years out of it. A concrete rink similar to the one in Gibbons would last 30 years and could be used for a wider array of sports.
The destination building would feature a viewing area, commercial-grade washrooms and a maintenance garage, he continued. The town could otherwise opt for a $95,000 garage-like structure or a super-fancy $1.1 million pavilion.
Mayor Barry Turner warmed to Giffin’s proposal as the night wore on, saying it best fit the grant’s requirements.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity there for the centre of town,” he said, and it could create a destination location when combined with the splash park, which the town planned to fix anyway.
The town has until Oct. 1 to submit its grant application.
Town council also received more results from its recent population census.
Morinville held a population census from April 1 to July 12.
The town’s population, as previously announced, is 10,578, or 6.92 per cent more than it was in 2016 (the date of the last census). The town has 3,894 dwellings (up 6.4 per cent from 2016), about 71 per cent of which are single detached homes.
The census found Morinville has a relatively young population, with 54.2 per cent of its residents under 40 and 32.3 per cent under 25. The town has slightly more females than males (4,926 versus 4,888), and 22 residents who identify as non-binary, trans-men, trans-women, two-spirited or other.
The town also ran two contests – a draw amongst online respondents and a guess-the-population challenge – to encourage residents to take part in the census. Council heard the Kassidy Blower household won the draw, while Gus Klutymans had the best guess (10,572). Both received $150 in gift certificates.
While Morinville can apply to become a city now that it has reached the 10,000 mark, Turner reiterated doing so would be a task for future governments.
“We have not applied for city status,” he said, and council has not discussed it.
Data from the census would be used by the town and local school boards for planning purposes. Census results can be found in the agenda report for the Sept. 22 council meeting.