Thursday , 21 October 2021

Majority in favour of M.D. rec park, but location and cost concerns remain

The recreation survey says the majority are in favour of a new outdoor recreation park with a focus on unstructured areas, but major questions remain as the feasibility study continues.

The M.D. has seen data from their recreational park survey for their feasibility study, which RC Strategies is conducting.

Sixty-six per cent of respondents said they were very supportive or somewhat supportive of a rec park, while 28 per cent said they were not supportive.

The most common answers of those in favour said the project could help enhance the diversity of outdoor recreation spaces and facilities that are available (provide space for new or emerging types of activities) and the potential economic benefit.

The most common answers of those not in favour said the M.D. should focus its resources on other priorities or that there were enough recreational spaces already.

Thirty-two per cent said they did not agree with the location, which would be just outside of Bonnyville.

The cost of the project with the rec spaces the M.D. has prioritized from this data range would be just over $22-million for two phases.

“It’s a big pricetag…this whole thing is an exercise in engaging with the public to try and widdle this down to exactly what we want to do,” said Reeve Greg Sawchuk Thursday on The Morning After.

“I think cost has to be one of those top considerations. That is a lot of money. Right now, we’re still going forward and talking to people about this, but we’re talking about all options. If the Town or Ardmore or whoever comes forward with an option, we have to entertain that as well.”

The next open house is May 6 at the Shaw House where RC Strategies will share what they’ve gathered so far and then refine the site.

The data includes just over 650 responses from the survey and conversations with stakeholders and user groups.

What is currently included

The current draft of the rec park would include four baseball diamonds, four softball/slo-pitch diamonds, four rectangular fields, eight pickleball courts, and one Destination playground.

There would be a gathering space and site hub building, family day use spaces and barbecue area, loop trails and 61 camping area sites. Besides rectangular sports fields (soccer fields), these spaces received the highest responses for what residents wanted to see in the park at the last open house.

“As far as the non-structured, the trails, that kind of fell in line with what we heard from the overall recreation survey where people were looking for things to do that weren’t necessarily tied into a single sport,” said Sawchuk.

“It was something they could get out and do at a moment’s notice where they can walk or go riding and camping.”

Location issues

From the survey, 38 per cent said they were very likely to use the park, while 35 per cent said it was not likely.

This directly matched the 38 per cent of respondents who lived within a 15-minute drive of Bonnyville and the 35 per cent who lived farther than 15 minutes away.

“What we also saw was a lot of correlation in the responses for the people and where they lived,” said Sawchuk.

“Of course, there was more support for this on people within 15 minutes of Bonnyville and considerably less support for those who lived farther away. We’ve seen that again in the recreation survey. People want things close to where they live and the M.D. is a big area and we have to look at everybody’s needs,” he said.

One idea from the last open house was to put the rec park in Ardmore to centralize it between Cold Lake and Bonnyville.

“I had asked the question in regards to the pool to the same company whether or not that has ever been done. Because you don’t have the big urban population right around it to support it there’s a lot of problems with placing it out in the middle,” said Sawchuk.

Twenty-two per cent said it was somewhat likely they would use the park, while five per cent said they were unsure.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.