At Morinville Council: logger sports and RVs

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Sponsorships sought

A town councillor is questioning the future of logger sports in Morinville’s biggest summer festival.

Councillors heard from two community groups asking for sponsorships during Dec. 19’s committee of the whole meeting.

The Morinville Festival Society had the biggest ask at $28,215 plus in-kind support to run Festival Days – the town’s main summer celebration that in recent years has featured logger sports competitions. That in-kind support cost roughly $15,000 last year, council heard.

Last year’s festival drew some 3,500 people and added about $70,000 to Morinville’s economy, said festival society president Korien Sampson. It’s starting to become sustainable, and should draw another 1,000 guests if has a full-fledged logger sports event this year. (The festival held a kids logger sports challenge last year due to budget cuts.)

“It just goes to show how important logger sports is to Festival Days and to the town of Morinville itself,” Sampson said.

The society had budgeted $16,500 to host a full-fledged logger sports tournament this year, council learned – equivalent to about 19 per cent of the Festival Days budget.

Sampson reiterated the society’s request to designate the field by the Ray McDonald Sports Centre as a permanent festival grounds that could eventually host an amphitheatre and a permanent log-rolling pond.

“This is a great green-space for the community to come together throughout a year,” Sampson said, and it could host plays, concerts, and logger sports contests.

Sampson said the group was seeking sponsorships and donations from groups other than the town and was asking for less money than in previous years.

Coun. Stephen Dafoe was skeptical of logger sports.

Two years ago when you had full-on logger sports it didn’t do a thing for me. It was 45 minutes of setup for five minutes of sawing.”

Whereas the annual firefighters’ combat challenge drew huge crowds, Dafoe said he often saw near-empty bleachers at the logger sports event. He also had not heard from anyone demanding more logger sports in Morinville.

“You want us to dedicate space to a sport that it seems nobody cares about other than your sister and you,” he said, addressing Festival Society vice-president Angel van Ee (who had created a crowd-funding campaign for the logger sports event that, after several months, had drawn just $10 in support, which Ee said was from her sister).

Sampson said that logger sports actually had a long history in Alberta that included the old King of the Klondike challenge at Klondike Days, and that both the University of Alberta and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology had active logger sports scenes. The society got many calls from tourists interested in logger sports prior to last year’s event. This year’s event would also feature a display on Morinville’s logging history.

Sampson said that the stands were often full at the logger sports challenge and noted that the firefighters’ challenge also had small crowds to start.

Council called on the society to come back with better financial reporting and more evidence of external sponsorship.

The Morinville Art Club also sought help from council.

A $1,365 annual sponsorship would help them pay for studio space (the cost of which was deterring new members), while a one-time donation of $500 would help them host the Alberta Community Art Clubs Association Northern Zone Showcase this April, said club member Rozanna McConnell. The showcase corresponds with the association’s 50th anniversary and the club’s 40th, and would draw about 150 artists.

Council referred the club’s request to its Jan. 9 meeting.

RV debate

Councillors were concerned last week that proposed rules for recreational vehicle parking could jam streets with junk.

Morinville council debated changes to the town’s community standards bylaw at committee of the whole last week.

The proposed changes would allow residents to park RVs on authorized pads in front of their homes year-round instead of from just April 1 to Oct. 31 and would expand the definition of RVs to include utility trailers, watercraft, tent trailers, off-road vehicles and other work/recreation-related craft.

The town had made so many exceptions to the current RV rules that they were unenforceable, said community and protective services director David Schaefer. These changes would be more enforceable and accounted for public comments.

Coun. Scott Richardson opposed classifying utility trailers as RVs, and predicted that these changes would be an administrative nightmare to enforce. The law should instead let people store RVs on their property for more of the year, he argued.

“I don’t think this is a betterment for our community. I think it’s a way for some people to save a couple hundred bucks.”

Mayor Barry Turner opposed singling out specific vehicle types for regulation, saying that it should be okay to store a vehicle on your property if it wasn’t derelict and could fit in a safe and reasonable space.

“I don’t want to start governing what people can use their property for.”

Coun. Nicole Boutestein said these changes could create a jumble of boats and vehicles on streets already crammed with buses, trailers, and snow drifts.

“Pretty soon it’s going to be the garbage cans are going to sit in the middle of Grandin Drive.”

Council referred the matter to their Jan. 9 meeting for further debate.

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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.