by Doreen O’Sullivan
In my article published on August 28, I asked “How are we doing”, with respect to NG Parks Recreation and Culture. I concluded that article by asking you to have your say and let us know what your priorities are for Parks, Recreation and Culture.
This week, I want to express my sincere thanks for the great response to the survey, which was available on-line and at the Municipal Centre and Library. As of 11:30 on Friday, September 20, we had received 920 responses. That is a wonderful response and we appreciate it. Additionally, there were over 60 people who attended the two open house sessions. Seven stakeholder meetings were held with representatives for the following categories:
Service Clubs, Community Associations, BIA, Education, Health Resources and Social Services, Arts and Culture, Environmental/Trails, Outdoor Sports and Other Sports, and Ice sports.
The consultants, Monteith-Brown Planning Consultants Ltd., (MBPC) were the successful bidders to produce a 10-Year Parks, Recreation & Culture Master Plan for the Municipality of North Grenville. They have indicated that they were pleased with the response and community engagement they received while visiting North Grenville.
MBPC is committed to develop a Master Plan for North that:
• Has a lasting impact
• Reflects our local context
• Considers partnerships and new opportunities
• Is supported by public input and current research
• Is evidence-based
• Is realistic and achievable
• Is fiscally responsible.
MBPC have partnered with Tucker-Reid and Associates (TRA), who specialize in strategic and operational planning with a focus on parks and recreation. They utilize innovative strategies to maximize organizational effectiveness for large and small municipalities. TRA are responsible for the program, policy and staffing assessments.
As a small, but rapidly growing municipality, we need to maximize efficient use of our human resources and facilities. As an example, the municipality manages two indoor hockey/skating rinks, and ice allocation is becoming more of a challenge. Staff need to multi-task; job descriptions and working hours are complex. The Plan will be tailored to the unique attributes and needs of our municipality.
There is a rapidly growing focus on active transportation and physical activity across all generations, from children walking to school, and seniors engaging in a variety of sports and recreational activities. Resident expectations and new leisure preferences are emerging. Pickle ball is the fastest growing sport in North America, and there is an enthusiastic group of adults in NG who struggle to find gym availability at an affordable price. NG has enthusiastic and creative groups of visual and performing artists. They also are challenged in finding space to meet and showcase their talents. The Historical Society also needs appropriate space to archive and showcase their artifacts.
There is a link to economic development and growth related to facilities and programs offered in our municipality. The North Grenville Curling Club will soon welcome 24 world class calibre women’s curling teams to the 14th Royal Lepage Women’s Fall Classic Curling Event. Teams from Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, Nunavut, Quebec and Ontario will be playing in our town! Baseball, soccer, and hockey clubs also host large events here in the municipality with great economic benefit to NG.
The Master Plan will be a living document, with a forward-looking and coordinated strategy. The Plan will consider financing models and innovative partnerships, and will help ensure that the municipality is positioned to become partnership- and grant-ready. Several new pieces of legislation and guiding documents, including Bill 108 and Age Friendly guidelines, will have implications on the provision of facilities and programs. The Plan will consider how these will be relevant in our planning and policy documents.
The next steps in the development of the Plan are that the Consultants will now review and analyse all of the information they have gathered from the survey, open houses and stakeholder meetings. Additionally, they were provided with several background documents to assist as they begin the processes of writing the draft plan. The target date to submit a draft plan to staff and Council is mid-November. A second Public Open House is planned for mid-November, and we will advise the public of the date and location for that meeting.
The entire council considers Parks Recreation and Culture to be a priority. As your council liaison with Parks Recreation and Culture, I believe that you know this is very important to me; and, from the responses, it is clear that it is important to you as well. Thank you for taking the time to share your priorities, ideas and comments. We look forward to your continuing engagement in this effort.