By Greg Price
Visions for a regional recreation master plan will not involve Barnwell.
Taber Recreation Board members Danielle Hansen and Darcy Firth were on hand at Barnwell’s September meeting to pitch the idea of a regional recreation master plan to align with the Inter-municipal Collaboration Framework to align with shifts in the requirements of the Municipal Government Act.
The Taber Recreation Board has spoken with the Town of Taber and Municipal District of Taber councils about hiring a consultant to complete a regional recreation master plan and has been approaching various councils in the area to gauge their interest in a collaborative effort to identify priorities and strategic directions for recreation in the Taber area.
“We have been in talks with the M.D. and the town and we have spoken with Vauxhall and we’ve talked to a couple of the hamlets within the M.D.,” said Hansen at the start of the recreation board’s delegation presentation.
Hansen noted there is a grant available to do the regional recreation master plan with the Alberta Community Partnership Grant.
“The Town of Taber received it in 2016. It was for about $200,000. It’s not a guarantee, but we are eligible for that grant,” said Hansen. “That would cover the plan. We checked in with RC Strategies, it would have to go out to tender, but with this company, their cost of doing a regional recreational master plan with just the Town of Taber and the M.D. is abut $60,000-$90,000. If more people came on board like say Barnwell and Vauxhall, that would go up.”
The grant application is time sensitive for the end of December to be applied for.
A regional recreation master plan would entail going to all the parties involved and entailing recreation needs and facilities areas already have.
“It’s so we can all collaborate together and help each other out rather than one person building a facility here and then somewhere only 10 minutes away building the same facility,” said Hansen. “We would collaborate together, identify gaps. It’s planning together so you are not overlapping services. We all know recreation is very expensive. It’s very costly, but it’s well needed in every community and it can be helped by working together.”
While the town, M.D. of Taber and Vauxhall have warmed to the idea, most on Barnwell council had their doubts in its benefit to Barnwell.
“My feeling is it kind of is another layer of bureaucracy. We are fairly small, and we have a very active recreation committee. We have some parks and a ball diamond and I don’t think we are in a position to look for more than we have already got,” said Kent Bullock, councillor for the Village of Barnwell.
“I’d have a hard time going into a meeting and saying we want a hockey rink and everyone else saying ‘well, we have one in Taber, and there’s one in Vauxhall so you don’t really need one’,” added Robin Hansen, deputy mayor for the Village of Barnwell.
Village Mayor Del Bodnarek took a different line of thinking, noting if the grant can be secured, it would be no out-of-pocket cost for Barnwell which would get an updated recreation infrastructure plan out of the deal.
“It wouldn’t cost us anything and it’s a plan that would say here’s a list of top 10 needs for us for recreational services,” said Bodnarek. “It’s wanting to do something more with our recreation budget and here is a list that might list our gaps. We are not behind anything (financially) if we get the grant and participate with another master plan. We are not tied to it. In the end, it’s still our decision, but we have a guideline where our holes are and we have things we can really look at.”
Hansen confirmed that even if the application for the Alberta Community Partnership Grant is unsuccessful, plans are for the town/M.D. to go through with a regional recreation master plan in keeping in accordance with inter-municipal collaboration framework with the MGA, although the timeline would likely be pushed back.
“I can’t speak of the others, but if you could secure the grant, we’d definitely be willing to come on board because like I said, we wouldn’t be out anything. Whereas, I don’t know if we have the budget to participate without the grant,” said Bodnarek.
In discussion after the delegation, Hansen further added he did not see the value of a regional recreation master plan to the Barnwell area.
“I don’t get what this is all about when we can do this ourselves. I don’t think we need Taber to help us plan what we want for our recreation, whether it’s a grant or whatever,” said Hansen.
Bullock agreed with Hansen, adding planning gets done further away from the local level.
“We know what facilities other areas have. We are not very big, we haven’t got the budget for grandiose projects. I don’t even know if it really warrants the grant money,” said Bullock.
A motion was passed that the Village of Barnwell send a letter thanking the Taber Recreation Board for its presentation, but stating council feels Barnwell does not have a need for regional recreation master plan.