Rec-centre plans revealed

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Outdoor rink in phase one?

Morinville could break ground on a new rec-centre as early as this July, says a town councillor.

Town council received the final concept plans for the Morinville Arena/Recreation Centre project Tuesday.

The plans have been in the works since 2015 by a steering committee of prominent town residents.

The plan is to develop the rec-centre in three phases, with a single sheet arena as the focus of Phase One, Matthew Roper of Stantec Architecture told council. The arena would have a lobby, concession, meeting rooms and up to 1,000 seats. A running track and a fitness area would surround the arena on the second level.

The plan also includes a proposed “Phase 1A,” which would be an outdoor ice sheet to the east of the arena.

“We wanted a second ice sheet but we couldn’t afford it,” explained Coun. Gordon Putnam, chair of the rec-centre steering committee, in an interview.

Instead, the steering committee has proposed an outdoor sheet with a roof over it that would shield the ice from the snow and sun, keeping it operational longer. The sheet could be enclosed later to create a second indoor arena. Putnam said this sheet was still tentative, as the committee had yet to determine its cost.

The plans do not officially include a new curling rink, as the Morinville Curling Club has said it was content to stay at its current location for about 20 years, Putnam said. The plans from Stantec show that if the outdoor sheet of ice were to become an enclosed arena, the roof could be extended even further to cover a curling rink with a second floor lounge.

The plans depict a field house built to the west side of the arena in Phase Two. It also proposes to move the running track so that it encircles the field house on the second floor.

Having the running track around the ice rink isn’t ideal as it would be a bit cold, Roper said in an interview – they plan to put some heaters along it to compensate. Should Phase Two proceed, it would be better to have the track by the field house and to expand the fitness area.

Phase Three will be the aquatics centre, which features a concession, a viewing gallery, a leisure pool, a hot tub and a four-lane pool. The running track extends south above the pool area to allow for a new fitness area, and the old fitness area becomes a multipurpose zone.

Roper also presented a mock-up of the outside of the rec-centre, which depicts a large glass-walled front entrance and an overhanging roof.

Putnam told council that there was an “audible gasp” when the committee first saw this image.

“I’m very pleased with what it looks like.”

The plans also depict a pond, a garden, a toboggan hill, a football pitch, two soccer fields and four ball diamonds built on the rest of the rec-centre lands around the arena.

Coun. Barry Turner emphasized that this part of the plan was “for illustrative purposes only” and that the town had yet to actually plan out this part of the site.

Next steps

Phase One has initially been priced at $17 million, Putnam said in an interview. The actual price will be known later this year once detailed design documents are complete.

Council received a timeline that would have council pick a construction manager for the project by April 21 and make a final decision to proceed with it by June 27.

Putnam said the goal was to start construction by July 1 in time for a September 2018 opening.

“I’m so excited,” he said of the project, adding that getting this arena done was one of his personal goals for this term on council.

“It’s a culmination of months of hard work from council and our public.”

It’s been a long haul, but council now has a design, timeline and an opening date for the rec-centre, Mayor Lisa Holmes said.

“This is a fully multi-use facility, and we are planning for the future and for all phases to be done as quickly as possible.”

To see the Morinville Community Recreation Facility proposal click here

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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.