An old chicken came home to roost on Tuesday, Dec. 10, during what was anticipated to be the rubber-stamping of the city’s Recreation Master Plan.
At the 11th hour, city council inserted language into the plan that harkens back to the controversial McArthur Island issue, which arose at the outset of this council’s term.
Dubbed the sleeper issue of the 2018 municipal election, council hopefuls were lobbied heavily during the campaign to support converting land from the old golf course to passive park space or a disc golf course.
On Tuesday, Coun. Denis Walsh brought up the issue in requesting the definition of recreation — upon which the entire plan is based — include the words “passive” in addition to activities listed.
“That’s come up time and time again in our engagement process,” Walsh said.
“Particularly, it’s Riverside Park that gets singled out and we had a team of five consultants, downtown designers, and they all recommended that we leave the waterfront intact, avoid the pressures for commercial development. They say a city this size will need it even more, to have a passive space for people to avoid the concrete jungle.”
City recreation supervisor Linda Stride said part of it is up to interpretation. In the plan, spontaneous and unstructured activities are alluded to.
“Whether you throw a frisbee or just go sit at the park, whether you read a book or whether you do something at your leisure,” Strike said.
“Structured would be where you register. It’s scheduled. We certainly can make some changes and look at that, if it’s council’s direction.”
Coun. Arjun Singh agreed with Walsh.
“I think it’s probably good to put something in the plan around those common words,” he said, citing the McArthur Island issue.
Voting in favour of adding the word “passive” to the recreation master plan’s definition of recreation were Mayor Ken Christian and councillors Dale Bass, Dieter Dudy, Sadie Hunter, Bill Sarai, Singh, Kathy Sinclair and Denis Walsh. Coun. Mike O’Reilly was opposed.
Council then voted unanimously to support the recreation master plan.
The plan is focused on more than sports and identifies a performing-arts centre among priority infrastructure related to arts and culture in the city.
Other needs identified in the plan include leisure water and court space, with another indoor aquatics facility with leisure activities noted.
The plan suggests adding one or two new ice rinks in the next three to seven years and another one or two sheets in seven to 12 years.
In the medium term, the plan suggests exploring adding more indoor dry floor field space when considering building any arenas or aquatics facilities. In the short term, the plan recommends continued engagement with the school district to ensure community access to those facilities.
As for the city’s two curling rinks, the plan suggests the city continue to support those operations as long as they are viable.