Months worth of talks regarding the long-term vision for Squamish’s parks and recreation facilities are coming to a close.
On Oct. 24, the District of Squamish unveiled its draft Parks and Recreation Master Plan, which assesses existing rec and parks’ programs and infrastructure and guides its development over the next 20 years.
Since the public meeting, the municipality and the project’s consultant, Lees and Associates, have met with stakeholder groups to discussion the draft recommendations, said Tim Hoskin, the district’s director of recreation.
“The input will impact how we proceed,” he said.
The draft plan’s suggestion to move the community’s horse riding ring rang alarm bells with the Squamish Valley Equestrian Association. Ice rink users have also voiced concern regarding the plan’s stance advising not to build a second rink.
Conversations continue, said Erik Lees, Lees and Associates principal. The new information will be incorporated into the next draft, he said.
“It’s too early to say what the amendments will be,” Lees noted.
The consultants held three open houses, each with a chance for participants to provide input, and numerous interviews with different organizations throughout the community. Officials also conducted a public phone survey of 300 residents. To date, Squamish’s master plan has had the most extensive public consultation of any other project Lees and Associates has ever conducted, Lees said.
“The feedback has been good,” he said, noting it has allowed staff to refine and enhance the draft. “This is a long-term vision, not necessarily an implementation. Our goal is to improve all sections of recreation in the community, not at the expense of one or another.”
In general, Squamish residents’ passion toward the parks and rec services is above average, Lees said. This confirms that the district’s branding as “Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada” is on target, he said.
Volunteerism in the community is strong, he added, which is key to the recreation plan’s future success.
“The past history of strong volunteerism is really critical,” Lees said.
The consultants hope to have a revised parks and rec master plan timeline in place by early next week, Lees said.