Town council hears the benefits of a recreation master plan

Town councillors are now more familiar with a proposed recreation study thanks to an explanation from the consultant that helped write it.

Town councillors are now more familiar with a proposed recreation study thanks to a detailed explanation from the consultant that helped write it.

Council heard from consultant Gary Debney of McElhanney Consulting Services Tuesday, April 21 during the committee of the whole meeting. He provided insight into the company’s proposal on a Recreation and Culture Master Plan and Facility Development Study.

Debney was requested to speak with council to help clarify goals in it. He told councillors he took part in past studies for the town and he feels this document is vital to ensure proper planning for the future. “It’s consistent with what we understand as community needs.”

He said there is already a vast amount of data available to the town, which negated the need for a survey of the community. With that already available information Debney said the next step is the vision.

“You can just go straight on to starting to determine your vision and your direction,” explained Debney.

Coun. Marc Yaworski wanted to know how long before action could be taken on the document. “When does council get a final report and how long after that before we put a shovel into the ground.”

Wes Amendt, director of community services, replied that they hope to have information ready by budget deliberations to allow council time to consider projects.

Debney added with the company’s knowledge and planning department, this document will set the future of recreation in Ponoka. As an example, Debney said if the lifespan of the Ponoka Culture and Recreation Complex were 30 years, planning for a new building would need to begin.

“Just that factor alone means that you need to identify a parcel and/or expansion,” said Debney.

The key, he says, is the plan should be flexible to allow a building or space to have multiple functions. He feels they could host a workshop with community leaders to determine ideal uses of a building. Getting key community leaders together is an important part of that.

“We propose, right away, that the recreation committee and council come together,” said Debney.

Having a viable plan now will also help council if grant funding does become available.

Mayor Rick Bonnett wanted to be clear council is not eager to spend $78,000 on the study and see nothing happen.

He feels residents already know what they want such as a multi-use facility and a field house and is unsure if spending the money of the study is worth it.

Debney suggests the study is important. “You know what you have. You know what you need. This project is going to put it together and set the path.”

What the company will be able to do is provide architectural designs, plans and modeling in the study, which he suggests will save the town money and time.

No decisions were made as this was a committee of the whole meeting but the request to approve the proposal was brought to council Tuesday, April 28 during a regular meeting.

More details on council’s decision will be in next week’s edition of Ponoka News.