Feedback Needed for Recreational Facility Plan

wading-pool-post

Last Thursday the LCA was invited to receive a first look at the City of Regina’s  Recreational Facility Plan. This is an 11 year plan (2010-2020) outlining where the City wants to invest in recreational facilities across Regina — from swimming pools to skating rinks to arts centres and major parks.

Note:  This is different from the Consultant’s Report that was issued last June.  In a nutshell, there were a lot of concerns around the consultant’s report, so the City did another round of consultation before creating this new plan.

Public feedback is needed

Before I give you my take on the plan, the most important thing to know is there are two public open houses planned for this week:

Wednesday November 25 at 7PM,  MacNeill Elementary School

Thursday November 26 at 7PM, Eastview Community Centre

It would be great if we could get a strong local showing at the sessions and give solid feedback, whether in support of the plan or constructive criticism.

Note:  At time of writing, I can’t find confirmation of these dates on the City website.  However, the dates and locations were announced at the meeting I attended.

The plan is consistent with LCA objectives

It was encouraging to see how the priority for City investment in new facilities aligns with how the LCA runs community programs.   The City puts high priority on facilities that can be used by the widest range of people (like leisure swimming pools) and shies away from facilities that are specialized or serve a small number of people (like a dedicated indoor tennis facility.)

That’s not to say the City won’t help fund a specialized facility — but they’ll need a partner to step forward and lead the project, including providing a large portion of the funding.

Three levels of facilities:  City Wide,Community Destination and Neighbourhood Hub

The plan does a good job of describing three types of facilities in Regina:

City Wide Facilities are major facilities that serve the entire city, like Taylor Field, the Neil Balkwill Centre and the Lawson Aquatic Centre.

Community Destination Clusters are groups of facilities at further into the suburbs.  They are nice enough to be worth the drive and are planned to serve a subset of the city (say 15,000-30,000 people.)   The plan calls for the Schmirler Centre (Southeast), Northwest Leisure Centre (Northwest) and South Leisure Centre (South) to be the expanded over time to serve this role.

Neighbourhood Hubs are facilities designed to meet the needs of a smaller neighbourhood, say 7500-12,000 people.  That’s things like the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre or Kinsmen Park South.

Major changes are  planned…

The plan has 32 specific recommendations about changes and improvements to recreational facilities over the 11 year life of the plan.   Some highlights for our end of the city:

  • An improved Lawson Aquatic Centre, including both indoor and outdoor pools, and a mix of competitive (laps) and leisure facilities
  • A greatly expanded Neil Balkwill Civic Arts Centre, which will nearly double the size of the facility in Les Sherman Park
  • A redesigned Wascana Pool
  • No closures of indoor rinks, so long as there is demand for ice.
  • Improvements at the South Leisure Centre, including new tennis courts
  • Consolidation and improvements of City run ball diamonds.

There are items in the plan which could be seen as negative to Lakeview.   For example, the tennis courts at the Lakeview Par 3 golf course will likely not be resurfaced, in favour of better tennis courts at the South Leisure Centre “Destination Cluster”.  Also, the City will be looking to redistribute the number of outdoor rinks so there is one every 2.5-3km.  This could mean a change to the rinks in Lakeview over the next 5 years or so.

…But funding isn’t approved yet

The City is recommending the creation of a ‘capital investment fund’ so there’s money to complete these projects over the next 11 years.   They will also set aside money to partner with other organizations to build more specialized facilities as those opportunities arise.

That’s the tricky bit for City Council:  how to establish this fund at a time when they are also trying to figure out how to deal with garbage and public transportation.

Local impact: rethinking what is “Lakeview”

The LCA boundaries encompass Lakeview, South Lakeview, River Heights and Normandy Heights.  While that sounds like a lot, we have around 3500 households.

We’re also very close to Wascana Park, the South Leisure Centre, the Neil Balkwill Centre and the Cathedral Neighbourhood Centre, even though none of those facilities are located in what we call “Lakeview.”

What this means is we’re not going to get a Neighbourhood Centre in “Lakeview” any time soon — at least not one funded by the City.   No surprise there.

We need to realize that the facilities which lie outside “Lakeview” are built with us in mind, however.   South Leisure Centre doesn’t belong to Albert Park, and the Balkwill Centre doesn’t belong to Cathedral.   We need to make sure we use those facilities and have our say in how they are developed.

This includes ensuring that the City and the School Boards are working together so the school buildings serve the community as well.  There’s lots of opportunity to work closer there.

What Lakeview lacks in buildings, we gain in parks

On the other hand, we are blessed with some of the best green spaces in Regina.  Over the 11 years that the Recreational Facility Plan is in effect, the City intends to review the master plans for Kinsmen Park South and Kiwanis Park.

That’s a great opportunity for citizen involvement —  making sure our favorite green spaces are well maintained and meet the needs of our community.

Your Mission (if you choose to accept it)

1.  Tell us what you think in the comments.  What do you think of the plan based on this report?  Any big questions?  Or, go read the plan in more detail and tell us what you think.

2.  Attend the public meetings to learn more about the plan.  Then come to our next meeting or post you thoughts in the comments here.

3.  Be sure to attend the Council meeting when the plan comes forward in January 2010.  We’ll post more info as we receive it.

Image from Seattle Municipal Archives

Author: Mark

I'm a community volunteer, writer, committed family guy and professional artisan bread baker, not necessarily in that order.