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Swimming pool busy with private rentals

Town of St. Paul briefs from March 22 meeting
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ST. PAUL - During the March 22 Town of St. Paul council meeting it was noted in Director of Parks and Recreation Harvey Smyl's monthly report that the Aquatic Centre has been very busy, with 40 private rentals booked.

Due to public health measures in place, the pool isn't open to the general public, but it is available to be rented by individual families at a cost of $97/hour. Families must live in the same household to be part of the rental group. 

Private lessons are also being offered at the swimming pool, along with other youth programming, as per the provincial government's reopening strategy. The fitness area is also available to be booked for low-intensity exercise, for one hour at a time.

The Town of St. Paul has also opened the Clancy Richard Arena for private bookings over the next week, since it's spring break for many youth in the community. The cost of renting the arena is $95/hour, and bookings must be done 24 hours in advance.

Rentals at the arena are also for families who live in the same household, up to a maximum of 10 people. 

During last week's council meeting, Miller mentioned that there was some feedback regarding the cost of the pool rental when the town first put the information out to the public. Miller offered a reminder that it still costs the same amount to operate the swimming pool, whether it's three people in it, or 40 people. 

Canada Day

Canada Day celebrations may be a possibility in 2021.

Council approved Canada Day fireworks, as long as public health measures allowed for the event to take place. Last year, council did not move ahead with fireworks due to uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

Miller did express concern around what would happen if fireworks were purchased but then couldn't be used and instead had to be stored. CAO Kim Heyman said the fireworks had not been ordered yet and there was still time to look into things.

"I look forward to having some normalcy," said Miller, when speaking to the potential of fireworks taking place this summer.

The budgeted amount for fireworks the last few years has been $15,000. The County of St. Paul contributes a portion to the fireworks budget, which is built into the bilateral agreement between the Town and County.

Survey

The results from a recent resident survey were presented to council for information. There was an increased response to the survey, when compared to the one that was done in 2018. Council approved the results, so they could be shared with the Parks and Recreation department. No other discussions took place.

The results from the survey show the majority of respondents were somewhere between 'content' and 'very happy' with the quality of life in St. Paul.

When asked if residents felt St. Paul was a safe community, those numbers did drop, with 27 per cent choosing a three on a scale of one to seven where one was labelled as 'not safe.' Only 2.65 per cent of respondents chose 'very safe.'

When asked how satisfied residents were with essential services, health services received the lowest overall score of 4/10. Fire Services received the highest approval at 9/10. Policing received a score of 6/10 and Protective Services received a score of 5/10.

Another question focused on the various recreation facilities in the community. Most facilities received a passing grade of 7/10, with the swimming pool dipping to a 6/10 and the soccer fields getting the highest rating at 8/10. Scores were given based on an average number that was rounded up or down.

Residents were also asked to rank where the town's priorities should be for indoor recreation facilities. The Aquatic Centre received the highest priority ranking, following by the Rec. Centre, and then the Clancy Richard Arena. A gymnasium facility was fourth on the list, followed by Reunion Station, and then the curling rink. Art centre and museum were at the bottom of the priority list, according to the survey.

Advisory Role

An advisory role process has been approved by Town of St. Paul council, to facilitate how requests for recreation facilities by user groups are brought forward.

The process states that requests must first go to the Parks and Recreation Board. A needs assessment and budget will also be required when ideas are brought forward.

"The Board can take until their next meeting to make a recommendation. In the meantime, they can ask for additional information, input from other parties or any other information they deem necessary," reads information from the March 22 agenda. "Town Council will not consider an application from a user group for a Recreation capital project without a recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Board."

Recreation project requests by the Parks and Recreation department will have to be accompanied by a recommendation from the Parks and Recreation Board, with an estimate before council takes the request into consideration.

Another part of the advisory role process includes the operating budget being presented to the Parks and Recreation Board, and council asking for feedback regarding the specific section of the budget.

Requests from the public for items like neighbourhood ice rinks and upgrades to parks will be submitted to the Parks and Recreation Board for discussion and a recommendation, as per the process in place.

Community grants

Town council had its first run at approving requests as per its new community grant policy. Three requests came before council on Monday night.

The first request was from the MS Society for support of the Lakeland MS Walk. The walk will be taking place virtually again this year, due to the pandemic, but fundraising efforts are still taking place.

A request for $2,000 was put forward to council, rather than $1,000, due to the Rec. Centre not being needed this year. Council wondered if approving additional funds due to a facility not being required would set a precedent. 

Council instead agreed to support the MS Walk to the tune of a $1,000 cash donation, as it has done in the past.

Council also approved a golf package donation for the Go East of Edmonton Road Trip Adventure. A third request for financial support of a sporting activity, which fell within policy, was approved by staff. The grant was worth $500 for the St. Paul Karate-Do following the club's participation in an international event. The event was held virtually in 2021. 

Noise from WWTP

During the director reports presented to council on Monday, Coun. Norm Noel asked if a noise issue had been looked at, in regards to the new wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). He said he can hear the humming noise from his home, which is a few blocks away from the new facility. 

The mayor also lives in the area, and said she cannot hear the noise that Noel and others have described. 

Heyman said the town is still looking into the issue.