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Public has its say for future Recreation Master Plan
by Tiffany Wilson

June 9, 2016
www.saugeentimes.com

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It was the first of many opportunities for Saugeen Shores residents to have their say, as a way to guide the development of a Recreation Master Plan, at the Launch Event held Monday (June 6) evening at the Rotary Hall at The Plex in Port Elgin. 

More than 100 people gathered at the consultant-run workshop to express their needs, wants and desires for the current and future of recreation indoor and outdoor facilities and programs in Saugeen Shores over the next 10 to 15 years.

Todd Brown
President Monteith Brown Planning Consultants

“The purpose of tonight’s launch event is really to help identify community needs, preferences and ideas…it’s an information sharing process,” Todd Brown, President of Monteith Brown Planning Consultants said to the attentive crowd, adding however, they are not trying to create a consensus, but rather create good discussion in hopes of generating a range of ideas and options. 

 “People have invested interest in their municipality, particularly people are passionate about their recreation and their leisure time, so this is a great opportunity to have a say on what they want to see and where they want to go,” added Jayne Jagelewski, Director of Community Services for the Town of Saugeen Shores. 

The Recreation Master Plan is being done in a three phase process. 

Phase one is currently underway and includes “looking at background material, collecting data on the community, understanding previous recommendations or polices existing regarding recreation, looking at the population of projection and demographic information, looking at trends that are broadly across the country, the province and then looking at more specifically the region and then the town,” said Brown. 

He also stressed that throughout this phase “community engagement is a key piece to the puzzle.”

That said, there has been “great success” with the online survey, having 780 completed in the first few days of being active compared to the expected 50. The community is encouraged to complete the survey that can be found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SSRECPLAN  and will be available until June 30, 2016.

During the workshop, each table was asked to discuss, record and present answers to four questions: 

1) What are the best things about parks and recreation facilities, programs and services in Saugeen Shores? 

 2) How can indoor recreation facilities be improved in Saugeen Shores?

3) How can outdoor recreation facilities be improved in Saugeen Shores?

4) How can recreation programs be improved in Saugeen Shores?

“There are an incredible range of services and programs for many ages at a good price,” said Port Elgin resident Kevin Larson on behalf of the table and their answer to the first question.  

Other opinions included the relationship between volunteers, services clubs and the municipality in order to provide the current services and programs.

 Responses for question two ranged from the improvement of cleanliness of facilities, affordability of programs, to the development of a multiplex that will incorporate an array of activities for every age, especially an indoor walking track. 

When answering question three, Southampton resident Sunny Cushnie said their table had the impression there was already an outdoor recreation facilities concept.

“We are a small town, we have localized fields that can be accessed by neighbourhoods and this is a good attribute that our community has always had,” he continued.  

Cushnie also reminded people that there are two communities that are now one. “I think the referral should consider the fact that when we do consolidate our parks, ball diamonds, soccer fields and what not, that we do respect that there are two communities and that we might want to be representing both.”

 

 

 

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Port Elgin resident and mom of three, Kim Schmitt also said there should be the addition of more natural play grounds… “utilizing all the natural things we have in the community and provide more shade aspects, that way people can feel like they can participate in an activity without being fully exposed to the sun.” 

Lights at soccer fields, splash pads, swimming docks, social spaces, tennis courts and basketball courts were just a few other ideas for outdoor facility improvements.

Some ideas to improve recreational programs included the addition of water sports programs, summer time programs, snow day programs, drop-in programs and guided programs for seniors to encourage them to get out. 

“I think a lot of what we have heard, is that we are looking at all different age groups, different abilities and looking at partnerships. It is all very good and helpful to us,” said Brown.  

He then opened the floor to anyone else who had comments and ideas they wanted to share.  

Southampton resident John Mann, raised the point of including high school students into this whole process.
“They are an important part of what kind of recreation facilities we will need and will benefit the most,” he said.  

Brown said they are going to include the students, although given the time of year are hoping that user groups will speak on behalf of their participants. He also said high school students are encouraged to complete the online survey.

Saugeen Shores resident June Van Bastelaar also said there are a lot of “invisible people” that are often forgot about and that there’s a real need to develop programs for them.  

“They have talents too that could be shared and we could help with that,” she said. “We also talk about the average income here, but we also have some people that are living in poverty, we have people who don’t have a place to live…they certainly don’t have enough to enjoy some of the activities that we do so I just didn’t want us to forget that.”

Brown assured the crowd that everyone is taken into consideration when designing the Master Plan. He said the reason why communities create Master Plans is because it lays out what the community needs, how to best provide those and take into account things such as multi-use, multi-general and four-season thinking “so it goes beyond the traditional single purpose facilities.” 

The second phase of the study will focus on the draft master plan itself, including facility assessments, service delivery review and the implementation of the plan. This phase is to be completed during the months of July and August. 

The third phase, Brown said “is really testing the Master Plan.”  The draft will be seen and reviewed in September by the steering committee and council and then be seen again by the public to “get your feedback to see if we are on track or out of whack.”

He then said by late Sept., early Oct. they will have a finalized plan that will be brought back to council for their consideration for approval….“that’s if it everything goes as planned.” 

For more information or to submit comments about the Recreation Master Plan, contact Jayne Jagelewski by phone (519-832-2008 ext. 126) or by e-mail at: jagelewskij@saugeenshores.ca 


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