Indoor swimming pool is TBM’s most requested recreational item, according to recent public inquiry
After a lengthy public consultation process, the City of Blue Mountains (TBM) released the first draft of its Recreational Activity Plan (PAL), a guidance document for the implementation of recreational and leisure activities. in the municipality.
“Each page was designed and virtually discussed within the recreation and staff committees,” said TBM city councilor Peter Bordignon. “It’s not just a document, it will be a living document, which means we’re going to get measurable benchmarks as we move forward.”
The process of developing the LAP began in March 2020, when the municipality handed over the consultation process to Dunbar and Associates. The consultants were built on the city’s most recent LAP, created in 2015.
Dunbar and Associates also worked closely with the city’s Recreation Committee, which consists of one council member and six members of the public.
Public consultation for the plan consisted of a public survey, 50 stakeholder interviews and three focus group sessions. The public survey was conducted from August to October in 2020 and garnered 733 responses.
“We had a terrific response to the survey. The highest response I have had in the seven or eight studies, ”said consultant Peter Dunbar.
When ranking satisfaction with city amenities, survey respondents indicated they were most satisfied with city trails (91%), followed by parks, green spaces, and horticultural features ( 70%); sports fields and courts (49%); facilities (45%); and programs (36%).
“What we do know is that the poll was pretty specific on the things people wanted. There were some pretty common elements across the table, ”Dunbar said.
The most requested equipment was an indoor swimming pool (134), followed by access to Georgian Bay (78) and a fitness center (75).
“There is a strong interest in a swimming pool or swimming pools that could be used all year round. Some suggest a 25-meter pool with swimming lanes and a recreation area for fun and lessons. This can be in conjunction with a deep diving end and a diving tower and an adjacent hot water pool for exercise and physiotherapy, ”Dunbar said in his report, adding that there are currently three swimming pools in the area. region, which should be screened for partnership opportunities.
“Some believe that if the whole region (Collingwood, Meaford, TBM, Canadian Forces and others) agreed to share the costs, it might be possible to have a 50-meter pool that would attract big games and competitions. Windsor has the most recent construction of a 50 meter swimming pool and the operating costs are approximately $ 1.5 million per year, ”he continued.
The provisional document of nearly 400 pages includes trend research, interview and survey summaries, an overview of the city’s changing demographics, as well as an inventory of all municipal parks, trails and facilities.
The draft also includes many recommendations that were provided by city staff, the committee and the consulting firm.
The design office recommended that the municipality investigate the creation of:
- Extra runs for off-leash dogs
- A paddling pool or fountain
- An outdoor rink with use of the ice factory of the current arena
- A permanent outdoor amphitheater
- A ramp / beach mat system to allow wheelchair access to the water’s edge
- A covered tennis court
- More outdoor tennis and pickleball courts
- Connect the Georgian Trail to all residential developments
- Installation of bicycle racks in all public facilities, trailheads, play areas and public spaces
- BMX park
- Outdoor basketball courts
- More shade trees and shading devices in parks
- A community bowling alley
The consulting firm also noted several internal actions that the municipality could take to improve and develop its facilities and leisure offerings, including:
- Appoint a community parks committee to support the recreation department in the development and management of the parks
- Create a process for the design and development of new parks
- Adhere to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act legislation for park design
- Establish guidelines and strategies to better manage and protect beaches
- Establish overcrowding control mechanisms
- Improve connections between trails and waterfront access points
- Form a committee of community volunteers on trails and active transportation to support the recreation department in trail development and management
- Assess current trailheads and identify bottlenecks that restrict traffic, provide inadequate parking or meeting room, or prevent trail access
- Confirm public opinion regarding a wakeboard / cable park
Dunbar and Associates also recommends that the city move forward with the planning process for a mixed-use facility by creating a financial business model, forming an advisory committee, submitting a feasibility study and soliciting opportunities for development. government funding.
Seventy-eight percent of survey respondents say they are in favor of the city exploring the creation of a mixed-use facility, with their top priorities for the facility being: easy access, a central location and an area to expand.
The report also identifies possible opportunities for joint use agreements with neighboring municipalities.
“Look for ways to work together to provide better access to recreation across the region,” Dunbar said. “The Municipality of Gray Highlands has also confirmed its interest in considering a potential partnership, once it has completed its main recreation planning process.
The concepts outlined in the PAL will be brought forward as recommendations for council consideration and implementation are developed throughout the city’s annual budget process.
“There are recommendations that are going to be made from that to the official plan review in terms of accumulating more land and other things where I think it will help us create that additional capacity.” , added Ryan Gibbons, director of community services for TBM.
At a recent Committee of the Whole, TBM board members passed a motion to receive the report and consider the recommendations listed in the summary into future budget processes.
The motion also included creating a budget to survey all waterfront properties that do not have current surveys in 2022; Address any encroachments on city-owned waterfront properties and conduct a study on multi-use community hub facilities that will be funded with the 2021 budget allocations.