North Grenville Council received the final version of the Municipality’s first ever Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan last week. Consultant Steve Langlois of Monteith Brown Planning presented the final plan, which was revised taking into consideration the community feedback received on the draft plan in December.
The very thorough plan contains 84 recommendations meant to guide Council’s decision-making about the future recreational and cultural needs of the Municipality. “It provides a foundation for decision making over the next ten years around parks, facilities, programs and services,” Steve told Council.
About 1100 people provided input into the plan, representing thousands of North Grenville residents through their own household or community organization. “If you take anything away from this, it should be that we listened to your community,” Steve said.
Based on the public consultation, Steve says the draft plan generally hit the mark when it came to various areas, including playgrounds, sports fields, splash pads, and the desire for a theatre allocation policy. He also said the feedback from the Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit was very complimentary. “The Health Unit expressed interest in helping the Municipality implement the plan,” Steve said. “It has resources that align very strongly on the health and wellness side.”
Nearly 50 per cent of the recommendations relate directly or indirectly to arts and culture. The plan recommends that Council pay some attention into creating an arts and culture policy for the Municipality. Steve says that the community consultation also caused the consultants to focus on the management of the tennis courts at Riverside Park, the expansion of local trails, increasing demand on the soccer fields, and the appetite of the community for an indoor pool. The plan does note that they do not recommend an indoor pool in the Municipality at this time.
After hearing Steve’s presentation, Mayor Nancy Peckford focused in on one of the recommendations in the plan that suggests a feasibility study be done for an indoor recreation facility in the Municipality. “Council would have an interest in seeing the feasibility study for an indoor recreational facility, including an indoor aquatics facility, undertaken sooner rather than later,” she said at the meeting. “I personally had it featured as a campaign commitment and it was something that resonated with many people.”
Mayor Peckford also commented that, after reviewing the plan in greater detail over the holidays, she noted that unstructured and self-directed activities were high on the priority list for residents. She wants to focus on leveraging existing facilities and see what they can do to facilitate things like more public skating on the weekends. “Time, and a lack of desired programs and facilities, were two of the main barriers identified to becoming more active,” she said. “I’m interested in looking at how we can expand availability of our existing recreational facilities.”
Councillor Kristin Strackerjan also made the comment about ensuring that existing facilities are available for the ever-increasing commuter population in North Grenville. “If there is nothing in the evenings or on the weekends, that entire commuter base doesn’t have access to a whole range of facilities,” she said. “It’s something we will have to consider overall in the over-arching implementation of things.”
Mayor Peckford says that although there was some concern around the Council table last year about the resources needed to carry out this study, she believes it was a very worthwhile exercise. Recreation Coordinator Tammy Hurlbert, said staff agree that it has been an incredible process and a great opportunity to consult with residents. “Trends change, people’s lifestyles change, interests and usage patterns change, and this is going to be a great starting point for us in re-evaluating what we have, as well as moving forward to new things,” she said.
Councillor John Barclay agrees that the creation of the plan was a very valuable exercise. “Now it’s up to us when we go through the budget process to take this off the shelf and implement it,” he said.
The entire plan, with all 84 recommendations, is available to the public on the municipal website.