By Trevor Busch
With neighbouring municipalities unwilling to play ball regarding a Regional Recreation Master Plan, for the time being the Town of Taber has signed off on completing its own in-house plan.
Earlier in 2018, board chair Danielle Hansen and recreation director Aline Holmen approached the M.D. of Taber and Town of Taber councils regarding interest in collaboration on a Regional Recreation Master Plan. Direction was provided asking administration to enquire about interest in collaboration on the project from the Village of Barnwell and Town of Vauxhall, as well as reviewing funding options.
The Village of Barnwell has since declined involvement in the project, and the Town of Vauxhall has expressed interest but only if funding can be obtained. A potential funding option has been identified through Alberta Community Partnership grants, but has not been applied for as council motions in support of participation were required from each interested municipality. On Oct. 9, updated information was presented to M.D. council, which has also declined further involvement at present.
“Since there’d be no interest in a regional plan at this time, although the M.D. left that open for future — down the road (they) wanted to get their own master plan in place — and then maybe a couple of years down the road consider a partnership for a regional master plan,” said Holmen at town council’s Oct. 22 regular meeting.
“Upon visiting their hamlets they realized that they needed to look into their own recreation first and develop their own master plans,” reads a statement in administration’s background to the decision. “They stated they may be interested in collaboration on a regional plan in future.”
The board was asking council to consider updating and completing the town’s existing Recreation Master Plan developed in 2015, as the next phases including costs and timelines for the projects identified were not included in the direction provided at the time.
“The M.D. wasn’t opposed at all, they think it’s a great idea,” said Hansen. “They just didn’t know a lot of the information with regard to their own recreation they wanted to get. So they want to get their own plan done before they join.”
According to a proposal provided by RC Strategies+PERC, updating the current plan would take about three months in a cost range between $15,000 – $20,000. Developing a new Regional Recreation Master Plan using the 2016 plan as a starting point is expected to take up to 10 months and cost anywhere between $60,000 – $90,000.
“I think it might be advisable to take a page from the M.D.’s book and finish our master plan,” said CAO Cory Armfelt. “There is no funding for that in the next budget 2019, so that would have to be a budgeted item that council would have to consider as an amendment to 2019, 2020, or 2021. It would probably be an advantage to make sure we have our books in order before we take on regional partners.”
The town’s previous Recreation Master Plan was completed in 1985, and was outdated. The plan from 2016 includes priorities such as upgrading the walking trails, an indoor walking track/field house, fitness centre, amphitheatre, climbing wall, upgrading the swimming pool, creating a bike path system and mountain bike trails, and upgrading the auditorium, playgrounds, large and small ice, dog park, ball diamonds and the track and field oval.
Following discussion, council voted 6-1 to accept the rec board’s presentation for information and directed administration to include the project (finishing the town’s current rec master plan) in the 2019 budget. Coun. Joe Strojwas opposed the motion.