City Council unanimously passed a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan during Monday evening’s meeting.
This plan – which covers covers all aspects of parks and recreation (arenas, the boardwalk, greenspace, marinas and pools to name a few) – will look at the development of parks and rec in the city over the next five years.
City Parks and Recreation Manager Virgina MacLeod explained the economic benefits parks and recreation can have on the community, such as creating cost reductions elsewhere, boosting tourism, creating an attractive community for newcomers and ensuring health and environmental benefits for residents in the community.
So far, additions to the city include the disc golf course, outdoor fitness centre, pump track, sensory playground and splash pad, along with improvements to the Hub Trail, Roberta Bondar tent and Strathclair Park.
A consultation process completed at the beginning of this process in 2015, identifying gaps that have been addressed in the plan.
One gap, Coun. Lisa Vezeau-Allen pointed out, is the lack for teens and people with disabilities, while Coun. Matthew Shoemaker talked about the lack of green space downtown and Coun. Gardi inquired about the usage of parks and how underutilized ones can be improved.
Four key areas of the plan, McLeod explained, look at community development and partnerships, infrastructure, service delivery, and quality of life.
She said the city is also working at making its website more interactive, allowing users to see parks in their wards and neighbourhoods and where the parks are located, instead of the current list of park names, which some Saultities may not be familiar with.
City Deputy CAO of Community Development Tom Vair said the addition of the downtown plaza will help fill the lack of green space in the downtown core, giving it some park space and an outdoor rink in the winter months.
Vair also said the City will budget approximately $150,000 per year to upgrade city parks, hoping partnerships can be formed with other community groups to speed up that process.