New recreation report released to public

DW-Recreational report w pic

 

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New recreation report released to public

 

Cutline: Parks and facilities manager Rod March discussed the recreation needs assessment at Monday’s meeting.

 

The City of Estevan’s long-awaited recreational needs assessment is now available for the public to view.

Estevan city council approved the release of the comprehensive 70-page report to the public during Monday night’s meeting. Atlwest Communications from Saskatoon was tasked with handling the survey and compiling the information.

“I think they did an extremely comprehensive survey. There is some really good data in here,” said Rod March, the city’s manager of parks and facilities.

About 700 surveys were completed and returned to the city.

The document includes 10 key recommendations:

  • Work with the community to increase awareness of city-sponsored programming and convenience of programming scheduling;
  • Prioritize improving and maintaining existing infrastructure;
  • Work with the community to establish an interactive feedback process on recreation evaluation;
  • Explore opportunities to increase older adult programming to accommodate aging and retiring residents;
  • Prioritize active transportation and integrate trails, sidewalks and pathways into the fabric of all future recreation considerations;
  • Any new recreational facility undertaken by the city in the future should be multi-purpose in nature and serve the needs of multiple user groups;
  • Develop a framework for decision-making around recreational facility development;
  • Continue to explore further opportunities with regional partners, including Woodlawn Regional Park;
  • Formalize management and engagement with volunteers and promote volunteerism; and
  • Continue to prioritize affordable and inclusive access to recreation for all.

The report cites many strengths for recreation in the community, including the diversity of activities to choose from, the many activities for children and youth, a high quality of life, an indoor running track, the strength of volunteers, the generous business community that supports sports teams and organizations, the abundance and quality of the parks, and the residents interest in recreation as strengths.

Areas to improve include the lack of dedicated youth centres, fragmented trail and walking paths, an inadequate multi-purposed space, inadequate scheduling and access to facilities, inconvenient scheduling times, a lack of space for sports teams to practice in the offseason, a high demand for ice sheets, gaps in programming and program funding for adults, and the need for extended hours for facility use.

March didn’t see many surprises in the findings of the report. The recommendations vary in their complexity, but many of them are administrative in nature, such as communication with users and program delivery.

“If we’re going to consider long-term facilities, then we need to talk to the people and do a feasibility study, and then talk to the people to see what multi-uses the facility will have, because a lot of people will want the third ice surface back again.”

Citizens also told the city that it’s not just an ice facility they’re concerned about. If something is built, it needs to be for multiple user groups.

Atlwest sent out more than 6,400 invites to complete a survey. The city hosted open houses and had the survey posted online for a couple of months.

“We’re getting a really wide spectrum from not only user groups, but the citizens as well as stakeholders from the city,” said March.

He believes the needs assessment is a tool that can be used by council, by strategic planning and the economic development board.

“There are a lot of things in here which aligned with the Our Estevan initiative, which means look after what you have, maintain what you have, keep it in good shape, and expand your pathway systems.”

Many of the survey respondents said they would favour a small increase in taxes for a future facility, but also only if a feasibility study is done that says a new facility would be needed.

March noted the city has already started to move forward on the recommendations, particularly when it comes to communication. City program manager Erin Wilson has scheduled a meeting with the ice user groups on July 25. They’ll discuss some of the improvements being made to the Power Dodge Ice Centre and look at ways to improve schedulling.

Meetings will also be held with the other user groups.

March was satisfied with the number of people who did respond, and was pleased that most user groups participated.

“The data is separated from user groups as well as citizens. The demographics are separated. There’s some really good information in there.”

 

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