ACW receives new parks and recreation strategic plan
BY SCOTT STEPHENSON
The final version of the Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh (ACW) Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan was unveiled at a regular meeting of council on Tuesday, April 25. A consulting team from thinc design (a.k.a. Tocher Heyblom Design Inc.) presented virtually the culmination of their work on the project over the past several months. The plan offers recommendations and guidance for ACW’s next 10 years of design for parks, recreational facilities and programs.
Council received an overview from planner Leandra Correale Ferguson. She clarified that even though the plan is in its final stage, it is subject to change if necessary. “It is a living document,” explained Ferguson. Should community needs change over the next 10 years, the plan can be altered to suit those new circumstances. Ferguson highlighted grant applications to fund projects and new initiatives to generate revenue to help finance parks and recreation services as examples of elements that will likely be subject to change.
Specific suggestions for indoor and outdoor recreation expansions were presented by planner Mary Catherine Mehak, while landscape architect Stacey Zonneveld discussed recommendations for open spaces.
According to the presentation, public input has been key to creating a strategic plan that reflects the needs and wants of the community. During the early stages, 200 households were surveyed, and multiple open houses have been hosted along the way. An online platform was made available for community suggestions, resulting in 28 different ideas.
Through all of that input, it was concluded that there is a real need for senior and youth programming in the area, while continuing to expand adult and children’s programs.
Mehak outlined a number of specific ideas for the town of Lucknow, centred on the Lucknow and District Sports Complex (LDSC). Recommendations to maximize use of the LDSC include accommodating growing demand for prime time ice by expanding hours. The addition of a multipurpose space was also suggested, as was the creation of waiting room spaces that would have activities to engage young children. Revenue could be increased by expanding uses for Henderson Hall’s commercial kitchen and licensed event space for community events. It could also be rented out to local food producers.
It is recommended that ACW continue its Joint Recreation Board Agreement with Huron-Kinloss, as it is an arrangement that has benefitted both municipalities. It is, however, proposed that the name of the LDSC undergo a change to better reflect the extent of the community it services.
The plan says that as demand for new residential spaces increases across the municipality, it is important to ensure that new developments have adequate parkland. A minimum park size of 1.2 hectares is one of the recommendations. Having parks in every community is also essential, according to the plan.
Planning for new parks to be connected by pedestrian trails and paths to other parks is also high on the list of projects for future consideration, as is increasing the number of public, fully accessible washrooms.
The plan also stresses the importance of meeting all of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) standards, whether it be through a safer entrance to Port Albert’s Petrie Park, or waterfront path improvements at the Amberley Road beach access.
Upgrades to existing parks are also recommended in the plan, including replacement of playground equipment and expansion of half-basketball courts into full courts at a number of parks.
Overall, the plan contains 199 recommendations, the total cost of which is estimated to be $2,298,000, spread out over 10 years.