Council recommends funding formula for skatepark

·3 min read

Jasper Municipal Council supported the idea of a skatepark in town, but a long discussion ensued before they decided what to do about funding at its Jan. 26 committee of the whole meeting.

In the end, a motion was made that council approve up to $300,000 for a new skate park, subject to matching funds being secured from external sources, and to consider a portion of land known as Diamond A in Centennial Park in the future.

The Jasper Skate Park Committee (JSPC) has made presentations to council since 2017 with requests for funding.

Darrell Savage, president of the JSPC, was on hand at the meeting and emphasized he and his team are focusing on applying for a Community Facility Enhancement Program (CFEP) grant, which is approved on a matching basis.

If the final project costs $927,500, the JSPC will need to confirm an additional $429,703 before applying for the grant in June 2021.

While a motion was made that council approve up to $300,000, they talked about the value of getting the community involved in raising funds as well, so the municipality is not seen as “funders of first resort.”

“We have a strong grant application,” Savage said. “We really want to hit a home run with this grant this year.”

Without objection from council, staff will move forward with plans for an outdoor skating rink at Robson Park. Council indicated their approval to go ahead with the rink, using resources already in place.

Committee reviews

Bill Given, chief administrative officer (CAO), said administration is looking for confirmation of direction and scope from council about limited, prioritized reviews of the Jasper Community Team – community conversations; the Environmental Responsibility committee; and the Culture and Recreation Committee.

Given said the scope of the review is “to provide recommendations (about) how to advance and communicate with greater consistency… and clarity.”

Coun. Jenna McGrath asked how a board or committee could get in contact with council if something came up.

“I think that administration understood that that was one of the central challenges that council had been feeling,” Given said. “We saw that as within the scope of what we’re recommending here, when we talk about role clarity.”

He added council will be engaged in the process. McGrath suggested building that into the orientation for the next council.

Coun. Paul Butler said he was strongly in favour of the community conversation model, as did Coun. Helen Kelleher-Empey. Butler asked why the review would take until June to conduct.

Given said that timeline is reflective of administration’s current workload and current staffing levels, recognizing there is still work going on with the COVID response.

“There is a brief outline of things that are happening within my department currently that affect our ability to take on any tasks,” added Christine Nadon, legislative services manager. “Also, I’ve been working closely with (Lisa) Ridell (community development manager) in ensuring that we build consistency between boards.”

A motion was carried to adopt a recommendation that administration go ahead with the reviews and return with a report at a later date.

COVID update

The number of COVID cases are slowly declining across the province, and there are four active cases in Jasper, said Greg Van Tighem, director of protective services, during his Emergency Coordination Centre (ECC) report.

Van Tighem said there has been a slowdown of the province receiving vaccines although 20,000 doses are expected this week.

Residents at Pine Grove Senior Citizens Manor and Alpine Summit Seniors Lodge as well as staff at Seton – Jasper Healthcare Centre got their first vaccination and will get the second required dose about 42 days after the first.

Van Tighem reiterated the importance of people contacting Alberta Health Services and getting tested if they show symptoms of COVID. He encouraged folks to “get out and enjoy the great outdoors” while adhering to COVID protocols.

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh