Mayor Blake says SEC’s not a “done deal”

Council asks for resident support in survey completion

By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor

A rendering of the proposed Sports and Entertainment Centre for the downtown core. Residents can “Have their say” and fill out the online survey at www.rmwb.ca, until October 13, 2015. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

A rendering of the proposed Sports and Entertainment Centre for the downtown core. Residents can “Have their say” and fill out the online survey at www.rmwb.ca, until October 13, 2015. SUPPLIED PHOTO.

The proposed Sports and Entertainment Centre (SEC) for the downtown core has been a big topic of conversation around Fort McMurray. Last week, the Municipality held engagement sessions, and the online survey will continue until October 13, 2015 to allow residents the ability to have their say about what they would like to see, or even if they want the proposed building at all.

Over the course of the last few weeks, many locals have taken to social media to speak out about how the downtown arena is already a “done deal” and that the Mayor and council will push it through no matter what residents say.
The Connect went to the Mayor and the councillors to ask if what others have been stating was true, and is it “a waste of time for residents to fill out the survey?”

“Council has been clear about the necessity to hold public engagements and disclose as much detail about any possible deal as possible,” said Blake.

Mayor Melissa Blake wanted to assure everyone the SEC is not a “done deal” and, “Council has been clear about the necessity to hold public engagements and disclose as much detail about any possible deal as possible.”

When asked why it was so important for residents to fill out the online survey, Mayor Blake said, “The importance of that official public engagement is the formal necessity of recording the variety of views from citizens and let them all be known to Council. We have first-hand engagements with citizens and plenty of feedback on social media, but the formal process is the strongest influence as it is open to everyone to participate. Council really does use what we learn to help inform our decisions on this, and very many other matters.”

After the online survey closes on October 13, a third party contractor will compile all the results, and then administration will present those results to Council, by the end of October or, at latest, in early November.

Councillor Colleen Tatum said it was a myth the Sports and Entertainment Centre (SEC) would be pushed through. Tatum went on to say that such a survey was why an arena was looked at in the first place, but that was a few years ago. She stressed the importance of having residents fill out the survey, so Council could make decisions based on the will of residents.

“The more people that participate means it is more reflective of the general public’s feelings, instead of only a handful that sometimes participate. If 10,000 people voice their say versus 100, the data we work with is very reliable and we can confidently move forward – whatever direction that may be,” added Tatum.

Councillor Lance Bussieres said that he had heard that many were frustrated in getting through a few pages of the survey before being asked if they supported the building or not.

“The citizens are speaking loud and clear, and I hope they all are filling out the survey to make it official,” said Bussieres.

“The citizens are speaking loud and clear, and I hope they all are filling out the survey to make it official,” said Bussieres.

Councillors Keith McGrath and Jane Stroud also responded by saying the SEC would not move ahead against residents wishes, but they would encourage everyone to participate in the survey, or by contacting the councillors directly to let them know how they feel about the development.

And Councillor Phil Meagher said the SEC is not a done deal, and so far he has not heard from one resident who was in favour of the project, but that it was still important for residents to let Mayor and Council know how they fell about it all.

Councillor Tyran Ault said that no money had been committed to the SEC yet from council, but that it would be voted on later this fall.

“While I haven’t seen the survey results thus far, all one has to do is look at social media or talk to residents to see how most people feel. I’m hopeful that the council vote will follow what residents are saying,” said Ault.

“I’ve been clear from the start that the engagement from residents was needed before any decision could be made on proceeding or not. While I haven’t seen the survey results thus far, all one has to do is look at social media or talk to residents to see how most people feel. I’m hopeful that the council vote will follow what residents are saying,” said Ault.

Residents of Fort McMurray can fill out the online survey at www.rmwb.ca, and they can also find all the emails for Mayor Blake and the RMWB Councillors on the same page.

The Municipality is trying to engage the community, and residents have until October 13, 2015 to participate in the survey.

– Connect Weekly –