Morinville residents have until Oct. 18 to decide who will represent them on town council. In the final instalment of a three-part series, the Gazette asked candidates for their views on the programs and amenities the town has for a growing number of young families.
Reponses are edited only for spelling, grammar and length. The Gazette does not vouch for the accuracy of candidates' statements.
Morinville is home to a significant amount of young families with young children. Does the town need to provide more programs or amenities for this growing demographic? Please explain.
Certainly as our population of families with young children increases we must continually analyze what programs we offer and what programs are needed. It is council's responsibility to attempt at providing the necessary funds for the resources and the amenities that may be required.
Cost recovery needs to be considered also as some programs would fall into that category. I also believe that we need to work in co-operation with Sturgeon County so that we may complement each other's programs.
One may have the amenities, the other the program. It would create a win-win situation for the municipalities, for the programs, for the participants.
Yes, I believe they should provide as much as they can for young children. The initiative would be in three concepts: children, families and healthy communities. Who the services are contracted to and what the programs and amenities consist of would be determined based on Morinville's needs and demands. The services could be contracted out to profit and non-profit organizations.
The importance is to have families access services in the community where they live. These programs would help to provide a stepping-stone to Grade 1 and have the potential to prepare children for future learning. For example in the four- to five-year-olds, programs can include developing knowledge, skills and attitudes, identifying and assisting children with special needs, having a positive environment for shared activities. The parents would have an opportunity to help in the process. Community services could be coordinated to facilitate the children's important learning experience.
We are a very young community, which tells me that we are an affordable place to raise a family.
With regards to programs the town provides, we need to constantly monitor and evaluate all of the ones we operate. Providing programs that are appropriate or triggered by the community.
In time I would love to see a pool, but this will be dependant on not only being able to build the facility but financially operate it. This item is on council's long-term planning and will come when our population dictates it.
As we all know the Town of Morinville is growing at a rapid pace, and so does the need for more amenities. With a large part of Morinville's population being under 40 and having young families, this increases the need to provide our residents with safe and reliable recreation facilities.
We need to engage our youth in becoming more actively involved within the community. By promoting both physical and intellectual activities we can hopefully keep kids off the street. This can partially be achieved by improving existing facilities, but partnerships with Sturgeon County and the Edmonton Garrison will also be necessary. This will allow Morinville to have accessibility to clubs and resources we cannot yet afford.
Through these partnerships we can also provide a host of resources in concert with our own thereby expanding our ability to provide our community, many of whom are military, with the best opportunities possible.
We need to start planning ahead and there is no better time than the present.
It is a positive sign that Morinville has become the community of choice for many young families. Allowing these new families opportunities for participation in social, cultural and sports activities is an important part of bringing them into contact with established social networks and building a more tight-knit and supportive community.
We need services and support for parents, more programming for pre-school aged children (that doesn't conflict with the times of other private and community programs) and a new approach for activities for youth.
We need to address the recreation needs in our new developments (i.e.: playground in the Lakes and walking trails in South Glens). Town council needs to renew relationships and partnerships with surrounding communities, schools and community groups to ensure that we are offering a variety of programs and allowing access to everyone equally.
Morinville defines itself as the 'family choice' and meeting the needs of families should be a top priority.
The town along with a number of community associations provide Morinville residents with a multitude of recreational and cultural programs. The town sends out a community guide detailing the programs offered by the town and facilities information. There are plenty of options that are offered currently, but there are deficiencies.
Our arena is unable to accommodate one major user group in its entirety. It would be nice to have a figure skating or Can Skate program offered in town, but we need to attract coaches, volunteers, and we need more ice. Ice availability is quite limited for public skating and adult user groups. Morinville's ball diamonds are great, but we do not have a diamond in town that is of appropriate size or design for pee-wee level baseball teams and beyond. There are other popular recreational groups that are not represented in Morinville such as a gymnastics club. Morinville's walking trails need to encompass the entire town as well.
In campaigning for councillor, I am visiting many households. I met residents unaware of the range of amenities and programs offered in town. Creating an awareness of the existing amenities and programs is a first step. As local and regional residents identify additional needs, then additions and improvements can be made.
As an appointed public representative on several Morinville council committees I see the recent improvements in programs and services to respond to the increase in numbers of young families with young children. The community services department is making improvements to amenities, publishing a community guide (on amenities and programs), increasing youth programming and enhancing community events.
We have more than 50 local service clubs, volunteer groups, and other organizations. Various leisure opportunities and services in the community target pre-school, youth, adults and seniors.
Amenities and programs are vital to our community. Additional information is available at www.morinville.ca.
Ben Van De Walle
My platform includes "a safe and vibrant, growing community," so thank you for the opportunity to respond to this question. While door-knocking, the overwhelming response when I asked this question was: yes, more programs for pre-school, pre-teens and youth.
One initiative is a once-a-year information exchange, e.g. Saturday, Jan. 22, 2011, when all stakeholders would meet to discuss incremental progress on programming: young families, grandparents, residents, schools, non-profits, sports clubs, town council and others. The format would be: a) from 9 to 11 a.m., gathering and documenting the opportunities, issues, concerns, ideas, insights, etc. and b) from 1:30 to 4 p.m., gathering and documenting all possible solutions for 2011-13 and determining the action plan with target dates to move forward.
The current council initiative of the community cultural centre, when opened in 2011 with the many meeting areas, will allow additional programs all year long. The key to success is: more communication + more collaboration = more programs.
Jackie Luker Chevalier
As far as I'm concerned you can always have more programming for your community members and yes, Morinville would also benefit from new facilities.
Unfortunately we've been told that we cannot afford new buildings. By providing several options for all age groups you give participants the opportunity to get out into the community, learn new things, try new activities and meet new people.
If you want your community members to feel connected to their town they have to be part of it by being involved either as a participant or volunteer. Programs bring people together in a positive way and because the staff members are flexible the classes can change or evolve with the needs of the town.
Morinville currently provides a number of great activity based programs as well as educational and skill oriented training. I am a very strong advocate of town programming I believe in it 100 per cent.
Morinville definitely needs more amenities for young families with children. Only a few years ago, Morinville was one of the youngest communities in Alberta. Our young families enjoy living here. These families have also indicated some amenities are lacking.
They have repeatedly asked for a swimming pool and more recently an indoor soccer facility. Council has delayed these facilities due to their cost and substantial tax implications.
Other council members suggest a tax increase of 35 per cent to build an indoor pool.
I have reviewed our revenue streams and have a plan that would phase in a pool (starting with an outdoor recreation pool) to be built in the next three to four years without increasing property taxes.
Some people in Morinville might say, how can I believe him?
I was on the school board when we built Morinville Community High School. Despite many doubters the school board went ahead and built a great high school, and as promised, there was no increase in property taxes. Morinville definitely needs more amenities for young families with children.