Local residents could benefit from recreation facilities plan

Local residents could benefit from a multi-stakeholder plan for establishing extensive recreation and park infrastructure

Local residents could benefit from a multi-stakeholder plan for establishing extensive recreation and park infrastructure across Lacombe County, a consultant reported at council’s meeting last Thursday.

Council heard about the ‘Parks & Recreation Facility Development Strategy — Envision a New Future’ from consultant Gary Debney of Calgary-based CDC Consultants.

According to Debney, a plan to see large-scale recreation and parks development isn’t just something that would benefit residents of Lacombe County.

He pointed out that people from nearby centres including Sylvan Lake and Red Deer would benefit as well.

Building these kinds of partnerships across municipalities is something Debney has been involved with for some time.

“What level of service should we be providing to our constituents? We don’t have to have a splash park or a leisure pool in every community because they can serve the broader territory.”

Meanwhile, resources for the development and operation of recreation facilities are tight these days, he said, which means it’s vital to increase levels of coordination and partnerships across municipalities to make sure funds are used most efficiently.

The first step is to get the stakeholders and partners together and agree on what the future could look like in terms of what’s needed, and then spend the time ‘framing’ the projects, he said.

“You are looking at this in the big picture, and who your partners would be. Sylvan Lake is not within the county, but they’ve done a lot of planning and they serve part of your area. What’s interesting to me is that if there is an appetite from the other local councils and partners’ perspectives, then these people will come together to prevent duplication and overlap. It’s a pretty significant opportunity,” he said.

“From a recreation perspective, we really see the opportunities that come from working together.”

CDC Consultants recommended Lacombe County create a policy framework to guide decision-making. This would include an information-gathering mechanism from collecting data from stakeholders to preparing a discussion document and hosting a stakeholders’ forum.

Existing plans, policies, inventories, usership and operations would also be up for discussion.

“Having an integrated plan makes a whole lot of sense because then everybody is working from the same starting point,” he said. “And we’re not trying to figure out what everyone else is doing; we understand what everyone else is doing.”

Ultimately, council opted to give the green light to the development of a strategic plan at the cost of $15,000 to $20,000 which would take one to three months to complete.

“It’s to set out a plan and get a course of action in place,” said Reeve Ken Wigmore. “Hopefully, we can get (extensive) partnership on this.”