Work on a 20-year parks and recreation master plan is progressing in Lake Country.
Staff at the District of Lake Country have completed the first stage of public and user-group consultations on the plan and will compile results, an inventory of parks and facilities as well as needs identified before presenting a plan to council to get local politicians input on priorities.
“Our last major parks and recreation plan was done in 1999 so it’s out of date and time for a new one,” said Greg Buchholz, director of infrastructure services.
“A lot of what was identified in that plan was accomplished. We’re not looking at programming itself but looking at ensuring we have the main infrastructure in place to support the programming.”
Buchholz and other members of the parks and recreation department met with user groups last week to get a feel for what is needed in the community. As Lake Country has grown and its demographics have changed with many young families moving to the area, so too have the needs of the community when it comes to recreation.
Buchholz says another change is the way people recreate and the new types of recreation that are popular.
“One of the big things is how our recreational interests are changing over time,” he said. “There was a time when no one skateboarded. Well now people skateboard. Kayaking and paddle sports like stand up paddle boarding are huge now. We’re looking at what we will need in 20 years and what are the trends in recreation.”
Buchholz says the community consultation phase was very important as staff members heard about priorities and future needs. Over the past year there have been several community engagement opportunities as the district has had a roving kiosk at community events as well as a community survey and meetings with user groups and stakeholders.
One group Buchholz was happy to hear from was youth, who gave pointers on designs for a skateboard park. Of the things that have been brought up in the process, many the district already know about such as the need for better pedestrian walkways and bike lanes. Another big priority was an improved fitness centre, the possibility of an aquatic centre, the need for a new ice sheet, better access to lakes and increased off-leash dog parks.
Buchholz said they are not ruling anything out at this time and added instead of saying no to big ticket items, the district will look into all possibilities.
“We want to have the dialogue, maybe there is a way to make it happen with partnering rather than just ruling (certain things) out,” he said. “We don’t want to say we can’t, we want to look at how could we do it. Generally we heard there are good levels of satisfaction with our parks and public amenities. There was fairly strong satisfaction but we can make them better.”
Staff in the recreation department will boil down all the public comments and responses and present a plan to council, likely in January, to get their feedback before going back to the public for more consultation as well as plans for what things will cost.