Thirty recommendations in four categories highlight the draft Greater Vernon Recreation Master Plan.
The document was presented to Vernon council for perusal Tuesday. The document will also go to the District of Coldstream and Greater Vernon Advisory Committee for scrutiny.
The plan was put together after a team from Vernon’s Recreation Services and consultants from RC Strategies and PERC, and GDH Solutions reviewed findings and recommendations from feedback data.
“The draft plan is built upon the input and engagement of the citizens of Greater Vernon and under the guidance of the elected officials,” said Doug Ross, City of Vernon director of recreation services, who, along with consultants Gabi Haas and Mike Roma, presented the plan.
The 30 recommendations fall under four categories: service delivery, programming, general infrastructure and asset management, and recreation facilities.
Each category’s recommendations are listed as either high, medium or low priority, the timing for the recommendation, that is, short-term, medium-term, long-term or ongoing, and each recommendation also has a financial impact attached to it, ranging from N/A (not available) to five dollar signs. The more dollar signs, the higher the cost.
During public open houses and through online surveys, officials heard about the need for a new aquatic facility in Vernon, and enhancing the quality and quantity of indoor aquatics facilities is a short-term, high-priority with five dollar signs attached.
Sustaining and enhancing the quality of outdoor pools is also a short-term high priority under the recreation facilities category. A mid-term high priority item is enhancing the quality and quantity of dedicated programming space to “appropriately accommodate the direct programming efforts of Greater Vernon Recreation Services and others.”
Five short-term (ongoing), high-priority recommendations under service delivery include developing and executing a marketing plan, collecting and utilizing data in a consistent and organized manner, investing in professional development opportunities for administration and staff, implementing an event coordinator position and recording, sharing and celebrating the ways in which recreation positively impacts the community.
Four high-priority, short-term recommendations under infrastructure include conducting structural, mechanical, electrical and functional assessments on a regular basis; conducting accessibility assessments on existing facilities and making sure new facilities are designed to modern standards; follow the Recreational Facility Planning Process when investing in facilities; and using the prioritization considerations described in the master plan when determining which recreation spaces should be developed or upgraded.
Coun. Scott Anderson said he really appreciated the degree of consultation that went into the draft, not only with stakeholder groups but with a much wider public consultation. Anderson was really happy to see a pool, in whatever form, is one of the first priorities
“Your research confirms what I’ve been hearing everywhere: a pool is No. 1,” he said. “Has any thought been given to taking a longer view of the recreation plan and identifying a site we can centralize some of these things within the City of Vernon? Like, have a multi year-plan, start with a pool, then add a gym, something like that.”
Said Ross: “Yes, we have had those thoughts. Everyone knows about the ongoing litigation with Kin Race Track. We have speculated Kal Tire Place and Kal Tire Place North as possibly the site for the start of a new recreation complex. That site could be used in the future. It will depend on the outcome of the litigation, feedback from the public. A feasibility study would need to be done and part of that study would be identifying a site.”
Outgoing Coun. Catherine Lord hopes her successors have a larger vision than building “just a new aquatic centre.”
“I’d rather see us building something large and substantial,” said Lord.
The public will get its first look at the draft plan this weekend at the grand opening of the new Kal Tire Place North arena.
Ross said a final draft plan will be presented to Vernon and Coldstream councils, and Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, in early October.