District council has approved a new vision for the Brennan Park Recreation Centre lands.
The plan outlines goals, such as a splash park, childcare, camping, an indoor bike park, an equestrian facility, and more.
On Dec. 14, council voted unanimously in favour of endorsing the Brennan Park Fields and Land Master Plan.
The document provides a blueprint for upcoming amenities to be developed on the property.
One of the main highlights of the master plan is the outline of short, medium and long-term goals.
They serve as a roadmap for future development in the area, but are still considered flexible goals.
Short-term goals are objectives that are expected to be accomplished within five years.
Some items that fall into this category include the long-demanded splash park, which is estimated to cost between $500,000 to $1 million.
An indoor sports facility for the area valued at up to $3.5 million is another big spend highlighted in the short term. Also included are a change room estimated at up to $3 million and a park office with a price tag of up to $1.5 million.
A fenced dog park is another item listed for the short term, with it expected to be built near the existing gravel field. No estimated cost was attached to it, though.
Highlights from the medium goals include an indoor bike park, which has a cost yet to be determined. Medium-term goals are expected to take five years or more.
Replacing gravel fields with turf is another priority, which is expected to cost up to $3 million.
A running track is another item on the list and is anticipated to ring in at up to $1 million.
Additional basketball, tennis, lacrosse and pickleball courts are expected to cost $50,000 each.
An equestrian facility, event camping and an outdoor theatre are other priorities and are expected to cost between $100,000 to $180,000 each.
Finally, some highlights from the long-term goals include lighting upgrades at $1.5 million per field; field expansions at $2 million and new fields with new lights at up to $2.5 million each.
Long-term goals are expected to happen over 15 years or more.
Childcare is perhaps one of the most pressing issues in the municipality, and the plan calls for the creation of a daycare facility.
The first way is a temporary structure, possibly in the indoor sports facility outlined in the short-term goals as a placeholder. In the long run, the plan calls for a permanent daycare centre with fenced outdoor space in the main Brennan Park facility.
“I think an EOI [expression of interest] for the childcare piece should happen sooner rather than later if there’s no constraints to that happening...this is a crisis, and we should look for every opportunity to create more spaces as quickly as possible,” Mayor Karen Elliott said.
The use of the District’s campground was also an item that prompted debate.
Last year, the campground was opened up as a low-cost haven for the vulnerable and vehicle residents. However, in a controversial move, the District decided to close it for the winter, and it hasn’t been reopened for that purpose since.
The plan relegates the campground to be used only during special events.
“The campground would be used exclusively to support camping and/or parking for events and tournaments,” reads the document.
Coun. Jenna Stoner tried to amend the motion to allow the campground to be used for other purposes, such as low-cost camping.
Stoner said: “I do think it’s important we leave the door open for the opportunity to provide nightly camping in this location both from the cost-recovery perspective — if we’re going to have a camping facility there, it should be used more than just for events — and also because we’ve been having discussions with the province for multiple years now to identify a low-cost, low amenity camping location, and we haven’t been able to get very far in the discussion.”
Councillors Armand Hurford and Chris Pettingill supported the idea, but it was defeated 4-3 by the majority of Elliott and councillors Doug Race, Eric Andersen and John French voting against it.
How to pay for it all?
The master plan states that the District will not be capable of funding or leading the development of all the new infrastructure or improvements.
“Recreation facility upgrades cannot be funded through taxation alone and any new projects will need to be funded with contributions from grants, fees, fundraising and sponsorship,” the plan states. “Financial impacts to the community will be brought back for discussion prior to any financial investment decision.”
The report highlights several ways that the municipality can pay the bills for these future developments.
One method would be to enter into land-use agreements with private operators or non-profit community groups.
“What I love about this plan is shared use and flexibility of space,” said Elliott. “We’re not just connecting all spaces for one use. We’re trying to look for those complementary uses and the ability for people to share. I think that is a strategic move and a financially important move as well.”
Another would be for the municipality to provide investment for common infrastructure, like washrooms. Sponsorship is another potential avenue of funding, as well as the possible formation of a foundation. Finally, grants are also listed as another way for the municipality to potentially pay for the upgrades.
The plan also takes into consideration potential flood hazards and outlines several areas according to what kind of structures should be built there.
Zone A, which is furthest to the east and encompasses the current Brennan Park Recreation Centre facility, is where permanent structures can be built.
Zone B, which is just to the west, encompasses fields and is only appropriate for small raised structures that allow water to pass through them.
Finally, Zone C, which is closest to the highway, is an area still covered by trees. This area has the same restrictions as Zone B, along with additional environmental considerations as well.