SUNDRE — The local arena was identified among top replacement priorities in a regional recreation master plan that has recently been presented to neighbouring municipalities in the Mountain View County area
Town council received the final of several presentations by a consultant that helped develop the Mountain View Regional Parks, Recreation and Culture (MVRPRC) Master Plan.
Justin Rousseau, managing director of Expedition Management Consulting Ltd., addressed council by teleconference during the regularly scheduled Jan. 10 meeting that was also held in-person.
The project’s overall primary objective was to “develop a regional parks, recreation and culture master plan that provides guidance to the municipal partners in making decisions that best meet the needs of the community,” said Rousseau, calling the 149-page document a regional “playbook.”
Taking about a year to complete, the effort involved a “robust public and stakeholder engagement process” that helped identify priorities as the draft master plan was developed, he said.
But while an important part of creating the plan, community engagement was just one of numerous aspects taken into consideration. Also factored in were benchmarks and standards, utilization of existing facilities, supply of facilities throughout the region, growth projections, trends and demographics, he said.
“There’s certainly a wide variety of input that went into the overall plan,” he told council, adding all of that information ultimately led to the final draft.
“There is a strong supply of some facilities (in the region),” he said, specifically citing aquatic centres as an example.
“Three (aquatic) facilities for the population in the region is actually beyond what we normally see,” he said, also going onto mention active user groups that deliver programs as well as strong regional collaboration “of which this project is actually an example of.”
The consultants also noted lower levels of satisfaction with certain services, which largely involved programming, and that the regional population is aging. Some issues that were also identified include dated infrastructure as well as a lack of inclusion and accessibility in some facilities while some organizations are struggling with sustainability, he said.
The plan’s mission reads in part, “we will strike the balance between preserving local autonomy and enhancing regional service provision,” he said.
The plan also features an implementation strategy that’s broken down into three categories: indoor facility, outdoor facility, as well as programming and service delivery priorities. Among the 10 priorities outlined in the report is to study the feasibility of developing a regional multi-purpose leisure centre, he said.
“Throughout each of the communities, we found a fair amount of crossover in terms of what facility needs were,” he said.
“Certainly in Sundre’s case, a climbing wall came through loud and clear, as well as an indoor track,” he said, adding the consultants suggest working regionally to investigate possibilities.
Another action recommended by the consultants is to increase the existing utilization of ice in Sundre as well as Cremona to help alleviate regional ice pressure, he said.
“There are some facilities in the region that still require condition assessments,” he said. “Of course, it’s really hard to plan if you don’t know your infrastructure deficits. It’s a really critical thing to be done.”
A structural investigation of the Sundre Arena was approved in 2020 by the council of the day, but a report outlining the findings of that study has yet to be officially presented.
Each community was also looked at specifically, and Rousseau said Sundre’s arena came through as a top priority in terms of replacing the existing facility.
The community consulting process also clearly identified expanding the local trails network in town as well as river access, he said.
“A dog park is a facility that’s actually a gap in the community, and we heard about that as an important need,” he said, adding enhanced amenities for the sledding area on Snake Hill also generated “quite a bit of discussion.”
A spray park as well as a bike park were also among the top priorities requested by residents through the community engagement process, he said.
Prior to a council motion to approve the master plan as well as the presentation for information that carried unanimously, Coun. Todd Dalke asked what the next steps are moving forward.
“The key thing that we want to do, is review the recommendations together,” said Jonathan Allan, the municipality’s director of economic development, who served as the town’s liaison on the project.
He added the community services department should also be involved in future discussions with partner municipalities.
“There’s probably going to have to be some communication between the various municipalities…in the area of recreation and culture,” he said, adding there will have to be a level of coordination to reduce potential overlap.