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Priorities include enhancing Didsbury Aquatic Centre

Expedition Management Consulting representatives present recently-released regional master plan to council
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DIDSBURY — A recently released regional master plan has identified top recreation, parks and culture priorities in Didsbury, including enhancing the aquatic centre with more leisure elements as well as increased seating capacity.

Expedition Management Consulting Ltd. (EMC) officials prepared the Mountain View Regional Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan, which was presented by EMC managing director Justin Rousseau to town officials at the recent council meeting.

At the direction of municipalities in the district, the plan was prepared using resident, youth, and stakeholder surveys of area residents as well as other research and assessment. It replaces the previous 2009 master plan.

Intended to be a guiding document for future development and consideration of both regional recreation, parks and culture projects, the new master plan also sets out priorities for consideration of project development and future strategic planning.

In preparing the updated plan, the consultants examined strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as they relate to parks, recreation and culture in the participating municipalities.

The survey portion of the plan’s preparation included responses from 916 residents, 135 youths, 34 community engagement session participants, 54 youth engagement session participants as well as 46 group stakeholders.

The top priorities in Didsbury identified in the surveys and outlined in the plan are as follows:

• Enhancing the aquatic centre with more leisure elements and consider increasing seating capacity.

• Completing the library expansion project.

• Participating in the study of a regional multi-purpose leisure centre to address indoor facility priorities.

• Developing a youth centre in the short to medium term.

• Enhancing the arena's change rooms.

• Developing an arts and culture precinct within the downtown, adding additional arts and culture space and connect with downtown's historic assets.

• Expanding the local trail system and improve connectivity.

• Moving the dog park to a new location and expand it. 

• Developing accessibility policies for parks and outdoor spaces and take steps to enhance accessibility.

• Developing one additional ball diamond in the short to medium term.

• Developing a signage and way-finding program that considers both digital and traditional opportunities for enhancement.

During the Jan. 11 council meeting, Coun. Bill Windsor called the plan “robust and innovative.” 

“Like all our other documents, I think it’s important to recognize that this is fluid, that it may change as we move forward and as we start to try to undertake some of these things,” said Windsor. “I think it is a wonderful challenge that we are going to have to bolster Didsbury and this whole region in the ways the plan outlines.”

Nicole Aasen is Didsbury’s director of community service. She was involved in the plan's preparation process as a member of the project steering committee.

“Even the Didsbury-specific priorities that have been established, some of them are really quite achievable and would be real easy wins and successes for the community,” said Aasen.

“This (plan) is going to allow council to be making really informed decisions on the information that has been provided.” 

Coun. Joyce McCoy asked Aasen, “How are we going to roll out some of this?”

Aasen replied, “It will become a supporting document to cases that come forward from administration for improvements that are being identified through the master plan. The intent is for it to be utilized in a way that it is a backup to some of the things that we are bringing forward to council to help you make your decisions.” 

Mayor Rhonda Hunter called the new plan an “impressive document” with “much good information.”

Other municipalities involved in the master plan project were Mountain View County, the Towns of Carstairs, Sundre and Olds as well as the Village of Cremona.

Decisions to implement the plan's recommendations would be up to the individual councils. 

Council passed a motion approving the plan, which can be viewed on the town’s website.