Plebiscite approaches | DrumhellerMail
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Plebiscite approaches

People on both sides of the John Anderson Park plebiscite issue are looking for a strong turnout on November 3, the day the community answers the question whether the John Anderson Park is a suitable location for a community facility.
    Badlands Sportsplex and Community Facility Committee member Blair Christianson is encouraged by the support shown for moving forward with the first stages of realizing a community facility. He stresses how important it is to get out and vote.

    “If residents want to see progress, then it is important they get out and vote, everyone’s voice matters.”
     He adds it is imperative that voters are informed.
    "It is extremely important  to know what you are voting on. What does a 'yes' or 'no' mean, and what impact do they have," said Christianson. "There appears to be a misconception on what a 'no' vote means. A 'no' vote does not mean  a project will not proceed, it does mean that taxpayers are eliminating the most cost effective site in Drumheller to build and operate a public facility."
    Mayor Nimmo also addressed some of the concerns about the cost of a possible facility.
    "If taxes were to double, this project would not proceed," says Nimmo, adding the project depends on support from the federal and provincial governments, as well as the private sector.
    "We will build something as a community we can afford."
    Business community shows support for facility.
    Many members of the Drumheller business community recognize the benefits of a multi-use facility.
     In just the span of a week, signs in support of voting yes to use John Anderson Park for a multi-use facility have been popping up. A quick glance down the street in downtown Drumheller reveals rows of the familiar yellow signs. For Dave Powell, owner of the Sports Room Source for Sports, he sees the benefit of a facility as a family man and a businessman.
    “I see the signs all over the place, it’s  great,” said Powell. “It is something we need desperately in town, one to keep people here, and two, to bring people here.”
    He says while the vote is only in Drumheller, the facility would serve a far-reaching population. The facility would also create economic spin-offs.   
    “It is going to attract more people to town for events, which creates the opportunity to do more business,” he says.  “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
  At the time of the first plebiscite, the Drumheller Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion was supportive of moving the Cenotaph to a higher profile location.
    Other communities find success with facilities
  In 2007 the Town of Stettler completed a major renovation on their community facilities. A community of just under 6,000 now has twin skating rinks, a competition swimming pool, a beach style pool for families, meeting rooms, and a fitness centre, all built in a central location. The rinks came in 1991, followed by the addition of the library, and then the leisure centre last year.
    Stettler CAO Rob Stoutenberg says the facility has been a boon for the town. It is often an attraction when they show perspective doctors around the town, as well as when employers are promoting the area to prospective employees.
    “When attracting people to the community, they come and see what is available for them, it definitely makes moving to the area easier,” said Stoutenberg.
    He says the cluster of facilities is a big plus for the residents of Stettler, especially families.
    “If you have several kids, and you have one in hockey, the other could be in swimming lessons, or one could be at the library, or you could be at the fitness centre,” he said.
    “It also adds diversity for what it can offer to the community.”
    He says the facilities they have built have raised the status of the community. Stettler has become the number one destination of a number of hockey and figure skating events. This attracts spin off business to the community.
    “Our tournaments always fill up first,” he says, adding Stettler is very similar to Drumheller in having quality amenities for visitors.
    The community has hosted provincial curling events, the World Under 17 games, figure skating events  and a high profile hockey school every summer.
    In Wainwright, they opened the Peace Memorial Multiplex in 2001 with  two NHL ice surfaces, an indoor running track, meeting rooms and a canteen. Since, they have hosted the Alberta Senior Games, the 2008 Square Dancing Convention, provincial level bonspiels and numerous other community events in their facility.
  Asking for permission
     The question on the ballot of the plebiscite is, “Are you in favour of constructing a Community Facility on the location that includes the lands known as John Anderson Park?
    Councillor Terry Yemen is like others this year that finds he is supporting a yes vote even though he voted no during the October 2007 vote.
    “At the last vote, I certainly had reservations. It seemed to me they put the cart ahead of the horse, and I didn’t see that council had any direction from the people to build at that time,” Yemen told The Mail. “And of course we didn’t have clear approval to use John Anderson Park.”
    He said it seemed the council at that time was set on having a convention centre no matter what. This was in fact one of the reasons he decided to run for council.
    This time rather than presenting a plan to the people to vote upon, the vote is to settle the question of the usage of John Anderson Park.
    “I think this time it is clearer and a lot more transparent,” he said. “The plebiscite is to get permission to use the John Anderson site before we proceed.”
     “There are people out there that think there is a hidden agenda, that on the fourth of November there is going to be a grand plan revealed. I am telling you, I sit with that board, and it is not there.”
    “If we get the go ahead to use the park we start at square one. The facility will be driven by the people’s needs.”
    Debate on Facebook
    The battle over John Anderson Park has reached into cyberspace. Facebook has become a forum to show support or to detract from the plebiscite.
    One group is called “Vote yes on November 3 for the New Recreation Facility.” As of Monday, its membership was more than 240, and on the increase.  A group that was formed during the first plebiscite held on October of last year also in support of a yes vote is still active, with 115 members. 
    Another group called “Vote NO to a Community Facility @ JOHN ANDERSON PARK” is also up and running with about 47 members.
    Get out and vote.
    The vote is taking place Monday, November 3, between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
     The polling stations for Midland and North Drumheller are at the Midland Community Hall. Residents of Newcastle, Bankview, Twin Hills and Greentree vote at the Ramada Inn Suites.  The East Central, West Central, Parkdale and Riverview Park polling stations are located at the Civic Centre, the Nacmine voting station is at the Nacmine Community Hall, and the Rosedale Community Hall will be the location for residents from Rosedale, Cambria, Wayne, East Coulee and Lehigh.
    The advance poll is on Thursday, October 30 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Civic Centre.
    Watch the results roll in
    Progressive plebiscite results will be available on the Internet within minutes of the voting stations reporting to the Drumheller “Plebiscite Headquarters” at Town Hall.
    Unofficial results will be available after 8 p.m. on November 3, by accessing the Town’s web page and following the links “Living in Drumheller”, “Local Government”, and “Municipal Election.”
    The viewer must refresh the page periodically to obtain the latest results.
     Official results will be made public at 12 noon, Friday, November 7, 2008.

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