M.D’s recreation needs assessment highlights indoor pool, boat launch as top priorities

The results of the M.D. of Bonnyville’s recreation needs assessment, issued in August, is now available to the public, and it shows that 69 per cent of respondents think an indoor aquatics facility should be the top indoor priority.

That had twice the backing of any other indoor priority, way ahead of youth centres at 33 per cent, an arts theatre at 30 per cent, and indoor child play centres at 30 per cent.

This was surprising to the M.D.’s director of parks, recreation, and culture Chris McCord, who said she didn’t think the number would be that high.

The top outdoor facility priorities were boat launches/water access areas at 41 per cent, outdoor aquatics spaces (e.g. pools or splash parks) at 36 per cent, and natural surface trails (not paved) at 35 per cent.

Sixty-one per cent of respondents said there is a need for a new or enhanced facilities.

The majority of respondents were either not sure or said no to increasing taxes to enhance recreation.

Feasibility study for potential sports and recreation park

One component of the assessment was asking residents what they thought of a potential recreation area outside of Bonnyville on Highway 28.

The mock-up included six ball diamonds, four soccer/rectangular fields, an outdoor rink, pickleball courts, play area, and serviced camping.

The preliminary capital cost estimate for the site is approximately $25 million with contingencies that inflate that number.

“There has to be lot more work on that as well…the cost they provided to us was high-level and elite playing field – your very best, because they didn’t want to come in under and then us go and say let’s take a hard look at this,” said McCord.

McCord says the next step should be to do a feasibility study on the proposed area, and complete a recreation master plan the M.D. can use as a guide for all future developments.

“We need to do a feasibility study if that’s the council, and I say if that’s the direction council wants to take, now we’ve started with a recreation needs assessment, I think the next one is a recreation master plan for the whole M.D.

“The feasibility study will give us a more of a hard-nosed look, what are people really wanting, what is maintenance going to look like, that kind of thing. I think again, like with all this, there’s going to be public consultation.”

Vezeau Beach campground purchased by M.D.

The M.D. moved at last week’s council meeting to purchase the Vezeau Beach campground from the Lakeland Sports & Recreation Association (LSRA).

Stemming from the Oct. 9 motion from LSRA, the M.D. will now oversee operation and maintenance of the campsite.

The plan is to still have the Bonnyville & District Chamber of Commerce to operate the Shaw House. Meanwhile, the Town and M.D. will negotiate a new agreement for the operation of the Shaw House and the park.

The move comes with money tentatively put aside by the M.D. in the upcoming budget for improvements and two more seasonal staff. That was estimated at a high level of $1.5 million for a recreation grant application, but it is per council decision on what specifically that would be used for.

Chris McCord says they’ll bring recommendations to council on what the best direction to go is.

“Obviously, the boat launch was a real sore spot this summer,” continued Sawchuk. “It would mean upgrading that. A new dock coming and that dock going to Crane Lake. Then the campground itself…there were a lot of improvements.”

The campsite has been privately owned since it was built.