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Master recreation plan in works

Last time plan for Greater Vernon area was introduced was 2004
Consultant Michael Roma of RC Strategies +PERC outlines the proposed Greater Vernon recreation services master plan to Vernon council Monday. (Roger Knox/Morning Star)

A road map to the future of Greater Vernon recreation services is on the drawing board.

A new recreation services master plan is being drawn up by the city, with help from hired consultants, stakeholders, user groups and the public.

“This master plan will look at the immediate future,t he next five years, with a look at the 10-year time frame as well, and some visioning out to 15 years,” said Doug Ross, City of Vernon director of recreation services, addressing a City of Vernon committee of the whole meeting Monday morning.

Ross said it was definitely time for an update.

“The last time a master plan was done in the Greater Vernon area was by Greater Vernon Parks and Recreation District in 2004,” he said.

When completed, the master plan will look at the future needs of Greater Vernon residents – which includes Coldstream and electoral area B and C residents – as well as user groups and visitors.

It must also fall within Greater Vernon’s financial reality.

“We want to hear everyone’s hopes and dreams for what kinds of facilities and programs our community might have in the future, but those have to be things we can also afford,” said Ross. “We’ll keep that in mind before bringing things back to you (council) at the end of this process.”

Hired to help produce the plan are RC Strategies +PERC and consultant Gabi Haas of GDH Solutions. RC Strategies +PERC has more than 75 years experience in recreation and has drawn up around 1,5000 recreation master plans.

An architecture firm is also part of the consulting team, in case there is a need for technical expertise.

“We have quite a bit of experience but that doesn’t mean we know what you need already,” said Michael Roma of RC Strategies +PERC. “We have to do a lot of research, we have to learn about the area.

“We have to develop something unique and special to this area. The only way to do that is learn about the area, learn about the different communities within it, talk to residents, talk to elected officials and administrators and we’ll be doing that intensely over the next few months.”

The scope of the master plan is predominantly to look at bricks and mortar facilities and programming.

“The City of Vernon has already done a parks master plan, and we have noted how blended parks and recreation really are,” said Ross. “We wanted to make sure the two documents could blend together and be seen as a whole picture.”

There are some things being done at the regional level, such as the Okanagan Rail Trail and cultural plan.

Roma reiterated this is a Greater Vernon plan, not intended for just the city.

“There are specific strategic planning initiatives in other municipalities that have relevance to this plan,” he said.

Residents will be able to take part in the project through surveys, either done online or, if residents prefer, by paper, which would be mailed to homes.

A kickoff launch project for the master plan will be held at the Vernon Recreation Centre Friday night, Jan. 19, and Saturday, Jan. 20, during the day. Details are still being worked out.

The cost of the plan is about $100,000, which has been included in the city’s budget.

Ross and Roma have presented the plan proposal to the City of Vernon and Greater Vernon Advisory Committee, and were scheduled to present the plan to Coldstream council Monday evening.

Roger Knox

About the Author: Roger Knox

I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media.
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