Thursday, 22 March 2018 06:24

City wants public input for recreation, parks and culture master plan

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Urban Systems community planner and landscape architect Catherine Berris speaks to participants during an interactive workshop at the open house, March 14. Urban Systems community planner and landscape architect Catherine Berris speaks to participants during an interactive workshop at the open house, March 14.

Swift Current residents have an opportunity to contribute towards the development of a new recreation, parks and culture master plan for the city.


The City of Swift Current has started the process to create the new master plan and it is asking residents to share their ideas for the future of these services in the community.
According to City General Manager of Planning and Growth Development Michael Ruus this will be the first time the City will develop such a combined plan for all three services.
“The City’s first look at the park system was the Chinook Parkway master plan, but this is the first effort that is taking a more comprehensive and holistic view of the relationship between recreation, our park facilities and also the cultural component,” he said. “I think all of us realize how tightly those three play together and how much they also impact quality of life for our residents.”
The master plan will identify the parks, paths, facilities and programs that are necessary to meet the recreation, parks and culture needs of the community.
The plan will be used as a guide for services and investments over the next 10 years. The development of the plan is motivated by two key considerations.
“One is developing a more transparent development framework for private development in the future as the city continues to grow, and the second is really establishing our capital priorities and some of the strategic things that we can be looking at internally to help build and augment what we already have with our fantastic facilities in the cities,” he said. “So it’s all about engaging the community to have the community determine what we’re going to be focusing our time and capital on in the future.”
Ruus felt the biggest challenge during the development of the master plan will be to encourage people to engage and to participate in the process, and to balance all the different perspectives that will be considered during the initiative.
The consultation process started with an open house and two interactive workshops, which took place on March 14 at the Kinetic Park Stockade during the spring and summer city-wide registration evening for various community groups.
During the next few days there were some stakeholder meetings with user groups and other organizations in the community.
On March 14 the City also launched an online survey on its website to give residents an opportunity until April 11 to participate in the consultation process.
“So we encourage everyone to try and take part,” he said. “Basically it outlines all the same discussion points that we’re going over tonight, but you can do it in the comfort of your home and complete it within 10 minutes.”
The survey asks for responses in relation to a household's participation in various activities in the city during the past 12 months, and it then asks respondents to evaluate their satisfaction with the use of different amenities and facilities. The survey also asks participants to rank their top five priorities for recreation, parks and culture services and facilities in the community.
The survey refers to some key facts about recreation, parks and culture in Swift Current. The City's capital plan is proposing a major Integrated Facility that will combine recreation, culture, health and wellness facilities. There are 76 parks in the city, covering a total area of 566 hectares (1,399 acres). There are 14.5 kilometres of paths, and another 33.5 kilometres are proposed. There will be 48 community, sports, and culture events in the city during 2017/18, and Swift Current will host the Western Canada Summer Games in August 2019.
The City has contracted Urban Systems, an interdisciplinary consulting company, to carry out the public consultation and to prepare the master plan.
Catherine Berris, a community planner and landscape architect with Urban Systems, was at the March 14 open house.
“It’s very important to get the input from residents because it’s the plan for the community,” she said. “So we would like to know what the community thinks is important. We’re consultants and your [City] staff believe in listening to the community, so they hire us to go out to the community. We don’t know what you need and even [City] staff may have ideas what the community wants, but it’s way better to ask the community. Then it’s a community based plan and everything will get more support and more use in the future, because the facilities are for the residents.”
She emphasized the importance of receiving a large number of responses to the survey to increase the statistical validity of the results that will be provided to the City.
“So if we get say 500 responses that’s pretty good as a representation of the population and knowing that many people for example say a certain thing is important.” she explained.
The information from the public consultation will be used to prepare an initial draft of the master plan and it will be available online for the public to look at again.
“Then we’ll make any revisions based on the community engagement and then we’ll prepare a final report,” she said. “It will have an implementation strategy that talks about phasing. So most important things to do at the beginning and then as you move forward what will be done next, all subject to funding.”
Ruus said the City's goal is to have the draft plan available by December and the final plan will be presented to council in early 2019.
To complete the online survey, visit the City of Swift Current's website at www.swiftcurrent.ca/recparkcultureplan

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Matthew Liebenberg

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