By Cole Parkinson
After previous discussions around a regional recreation plan, the Municipal District of Taber council have been looking at all of their potential options.
After a previous meeting where a delegation from the Taber Recreation Board presented their ideas for a joint recreation plan, they were back in council chambers to give an update for M.D. council.
“As per our last meeting, you had asked us to meet with Vauxhall and Barnwell to see if they were interested. We have had meetings with them, Vauxhall is definitely in if we get the grant. Barnwell is not in either with the grant or without the grant. We’ve checked into the grants and we have the one grant option and the deadline is November 1,” said Danielle Hansen, Taber rec board chair at an M.D. earlier meeting this month.
Since the prior meeting, M.D. council had been re-accessing their recreation in all of their hamlets and were surprised at what was offered in the communities.
With further digging into recreation in the M.D., council felt it might be best to do their own recreation plan before joining up with the Town of Taber.
“We had a meeting with our rural hamlet rec boards and we came up with the idea that we should do our own recreation master plan in the M.D. to get a list of where we are at as far as recreation in the M.D. and what it would cost. Ours is, as you know, a volunteer base model. Most of our hamlet recreation facilities are run by volunteers so we felt we needed to quantify what the M.D. is spending on recreation and putting a value to that. Not to say that this isn’t wise and important also. That’s kind of where we are at,” said Reeve Merrill Harris. “We’re not objecting to participate at all as it is important to know what is being spent or what facilities in the future are needed. After we had those meetings, we were a little shocked by what we had out there and what it costs.”
While the hamlets in the M.D. of Taber may not be large in size, the amount of recreation is quite vast and it caught council off guard.
“I think we were actually quite surprised by altogether what we have out there. We got to talking to all of the rec boards and hamlets and we just felt the first step would be to understand what we have. Certainly the joint one would make sense for a second step but until we actually know what we have out there, we felt it would make sense to focus on this,” added Coun. Brian Brewin.
As the town is using RC Strategies to outline their recreation plan, the M.D. wanted to use the same company so it was an easy transition to the eventual regional recreation plan. With both municipalities looking to do a recreation plan, council wondered how best to approach the situation.
“Would it make sense for the town to do one, the M.D. to do one and then combine the two?” asked Brewin.
The option of doing separate plans was explored but the delegation says the benefits for doing a regional recreation plan first makes more sense.
“I wasn’t sure either so I made a phone call to find out and what I found out was, to do that you do waste a lot of resources and time. To do a regional plan right up front, you would get a lot of answers through a regional plan because they do an inventory of what you have in the M.D. as well as the town and Vauxhall. A lot of that could come from a regional plan. If that’s the way you want to do it, in house, that is certainly fine and we can look at it down the road,” said Aline Holmen, director of recreation for the Town of Taber.
M.D. council though was still more in favour of going solo to begin with. Even with citing a need to organize their own affairs first, councillors were still happy to see the Town of Vauxhall being in favour of the regional recreation plan.
“We recognized that we weren’t in order and we don’t know exactly. It’s not that those things aren’t operating well, but we haven’t brought them together. I’m concerned that if we bring them together regionally, we will miss part of their identity in the whole M.D. I’m glad to hear Vauxhall is a part of it and when I read Barnwell’s comments in the paper I thoughts on it,” said Deputy Reeve Tamara Miyanaga.
The Town of Vauxhall council had expressed interest in joining the project pending full grant funding.
Village of Barnwell council meanwhile have stated their opinions that the project would not suit any needs in the village.
“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 Deputy Mayor Robin Hansen at the Village of Barnwell meeting in April.
A motion was passed by the Village of Barnwell to 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.
Meanwhile, M.D. council were notified by administration that a request for proposal would be brought forward at the next council for their recreation plan.