By Greg Price
Danielle Hansen, chairperson for the Taber Recreation Board opened the floor to discussion on how the town can take a more decisive role on exactly what direction the future of recreation will look like within municipal borders, noting how forward traction for the Recreation Master Plan has fizzled.
“Talking to user groups, talking to Trent (Smith, recreation manager), Aline (Holmen, director of recreation), over several different conversations it made me start to think how long is our large ice going to last us? What will the future of sports look like?,” said Hansen at the Taber Recreation Board’s Feb. 1 meeting.
“Is our Civic Centre in the next 20 years still suitable for us? Do we need to do renovations for these new sports? We really have no direction. We have done the Recreation Master Plan with the user groups, we’ve found out what they are currently wanting, but we haven’t found out if we are on top of what our facilities will need for those results of the Recreation Master Plan. We don’t have a price tag to any of this.”
The process of the Taber Recreation Master Plan began in December 2014, which has included two public workshops and two surveys that were issued in gathering the wish list of priorities of where Taber residents would like to see their recreation planning go in the foreseeable future.
Those ranked priorities were eventually unveiled in March 2016 to the public.
“When we did this, we considered it Phase I of the Recreation Master Plan to identify what the public wanted. We never went that extra step further just because of the time and expertise to figure it out,” said Holmen. “What is the time frame over the next 20 years, what is the cost. It was never taken to that next step and I think that’s where Danielle is going in wanting to finish the Recreation Master Plan and take it a few steps further, and then we will have a better sense of where we are going down the road. Right now we don’t have timelines so it’s easy to jump around.”
Hansen pointed to an indoor walking track as being an item of higher priority on the Recreation Master Plan, something that current facilities could not facilitate with how they are built.
“There are other facilities like in Medicine Hat or Brooks where they have taken their existing facilities and added on or just tearing down and starting from scratch,” said Hansen. “There is no (in the Recreation Master Plan) short term, long term, prices set aside for them. It’s basically still just whoever comes in and wants something the most. It’s not the Recreation Master Plan I’d like to see where when we sit on the recreation board, we know exactly where we are going.”
Given the last Recreation Master Plan was in the 1980s according to Hansen, the cycle must begin anew of where the exact direction is going in recreation.
“It’s looking more into the future…not five years down the road, 10 years from now, but 20, 25 years from now,” said Hansen. “We aren’t going to see new facilities for my children, we need to start thinking about their children and their children. We aren’t going to get any new families if there is no recreation facilities and then you won’t get any new industries. It all goes hand in hand.”
Canada has come up with a framework for recreation according to Holmen. Many of the municipalities all across Canada, especially in Alberta are adopting the framework and how it applies to citizens.
“And it’s more than just facilities. It’s offering opportunities and inclusion with activities that anyone can do,” said Holmen. “It’s an area that we haven’t had a lot of time to focus on and it’s becoming more and more prevalent that we need to go there to stay with the times. If we don’t, we will drastically fall behind other municipalities.”
Holmen also noted changing trends. The model municipalities went away from having everything programmed is now coming back.
“It was having everything programmed to let’s have the groups do the programs themselves. You’d have a yoga instructor come in and instruct yoga,” said Holmen. “That model has changed completely back to the other model again. Facilities are going back to the programming model and offering programs to get utilization which is part of the recreational framework. You need manpower to do that and that’s something we don’t have. We’d have to do a whole shift in recreation and some of that is electronically. You don’t need a yoga instructor, you can rent a room and it’s all on the screen where you go in with your mats and do yoga with an instructor on a virtual screen. That is where the trend is going.”
In fleshing out the Taber Recreation Plan, Taber Recreation Board passed a motion unanimously to ask administration to provide further information on trends in recreation and possible costs of the completion of the Recreation Master Plan.