Dewberry Arena

Through proposed Bylaw 12-03, the Council of the Municipality of  County of Vermilion River will be authorized to incur indebtedness by the issuance of a debenture in the amount of $850,000 for the purpose of financing renovations to the Dewberry Arena. This sum is to be borrowed from the Alberta Capital Finance Authority or other authorized financial institution by way of debenture on the credit and security of the Municipality at large, of which amount the full $850,000 is to be paid by the Municipality at large.

The Municipality shall levy and raise in each year municipal taxes sufficient to pay the indebtedness.

The Council of the County of Vermilion River will have given proper intention, pursuant to the provisions of Section 251 of the Municipal Government Act, by notification published by newspaper 4 times (April 2nd, 3rd, 9th, and 10th, 2012) respecting Bylaw No. 12-03. Unless a petition of the electors for a vote on Bylaw No 12-03 is demanded, as provided for by the terms of Section 231 of the Municipal Government Act, the Council of the County of Vermilion River may pass the said borrowing bylaw.

Many ratepayers have expressed the opinion that a community can best identify its  specific needs for facilities whether it be an arena or a hall, and that these needs should be met through the efforts of the community’s residents and anyone intending to use those facilities. Costs for improvements, additions, maintenance, etc. should be  covered through fundraising, volunteerism,  available grants and user fees for the facilities.  Costs should not be covered by the municipality other than through recreation allotments and park trust allotments. The County of Vermilion River has inadvertently begun pitting one community against the other by going from the accepted principal of “community wants, community builds” to floating debentures paid for by taxpayers in a specified recreational area (Marwayne Arena) to now floating debentures payable by taxpayers across the whole County (Dewberry Community Complex).

A perceived flaw in both the Marwayne and the Dewberry business plans is that arena revenues and expenditures are lump-summed and there are no projections as to what increases would have to be for the life span of the project.  Utilities could become an extreme cost of operation – has this ever been factored in?  In a worse-case scenario, costs could become so high that necessary fee increases would make using the facility unaffordable.  Kitscoty has already had to increase its hall rental fees substantially to keep up with costs of operation; it is certain that both Marwayne and Dewberry will face the same issues onward of construction.

It is also noted in the Dewberry Community Complex Business Plan prepared by Paul Conrad & Associates (Genivar) that their role includes providing an estimate of life span for the building and a cost estimate to bring the facility up to a 10-20 year life span.  The County, in its Bylaw No. 12-03, states that the estimated lifetime of the project financed is equal to, or in excess of, 15 years.  We find it shocking that this project, expected to be funded in large part by our tax  dollars (through municipal, provincial and federal levels) is not  expected to have a long shelf life and will likely be in need of further financial support  for repair and maintenance.

The 2011 Federal Census shows a population within the County of Vermilion River equal to 7,905 persons.  10% of that population would be 791 persons.  A poll may be demanded in the County of Vermilion River by petition of electors equal in number to at least 10 % of the population (791 electors).  In the Government of Alberta Municipal Affairs website, under Municipal Elections, Municipal Election Summaries for 2010, the number of eligible voters in the County of Vermilion River equals 5,780 persons.   In order to have a sufficient petition by numbers  it would require 13.69 % of the eligible electors in the County.  IF YOU HAVE THE WILL AND THE MOTIVATION, IT CAN BE DONE!!!  We, as taxpayers, must not allow our municipal tax revenues to be used to fund wants such as arenas  within a short distance of each other as opposed to needs such as  improving infrastructure and services which would benefit the majority of taxpayers in the County through stimulated growth and economic opportunity.  A strong, viable tax base creates an opportunity to contribute at a greater level to our community infrastructure.

HERE’S  A THOUGHT!!!

If any community organization wishes to undertake a project such as the Dewberry Community Complex and is looking for major funding from the County taxpayer, perhaps the onus should be on that organization to approach County with a petition signed by 791 electors of the CVR requesting that they consider the proposal.