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RDCK eyes Recreation Campus concept in 5-year Plan

Suzy Hamilton
By Suzy Hamilton
May 9th, 2014

Someone, says Area E Director Ramona Faust, was thinking ahead.

“Nelson is very fortunate to have had people with foresight who built a number of recreation buildings within a four square block area right downtown,” said Faust, chair of the RDCK’s Rec Commission.

A recreational campus was one of a series of visions from the five-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan presented at information sessions throughout the area during April.

“Most people were very positive about the value of the presentation and exhibit materials,” said Faust.  “There was interest about how we were going to choose a  path forward. Some rural people might have liked more specific content about their areas.”

One of the most prominent visions to emerge was the concept of a  recreational campus in Nelson, she said.

“The recreation campus could be better connected and presented as a true recreation campus by creating access between the buildings,” she said.  “And adding a uniform feel in the landscape as well as analyzing if the buildings are being used for the right purpose to suit today’s sport trends,” Faust added.

Faust said family activities are up while team sports participation is down.

Two years in the making, the plan started with surveys, workshops and focus groups which began the inputting process in 2012 into the plan designed by consultant Gary Young.

In the process, some interesting statistics emerged. Since 2006, Nelson is the fastest growing area in the region, increasing by 10 percent, followed by Area F (North Shore, Beasley, Bonnington) at 7 percent. The Slocan Valley lost population marginally.

And there are more women than men in Nelson and Area F, with Nelson residents matching the median provincial age of 41 years old.

About 18,000 people pay into the regional district’s recreational program, an additional 6,000 are non-payers.

All this adds up to a population who loves and uses their parks and trails, said Faust.

“We found that people in the survey area were extremely active outdoors with 92% having walked, jogged, hiked, or  biked in the year before the survey,” she said.

As a result, the long-awaited skateboard and bike skills park in Rosemont was opened in 2013. 

A total of $333,000 has been devoted to the expansion of popular Taghum Beach Park. The park expansion includes the purchase of 8.3 acres bordering the day-use area, more parking, better traffic flow, trail construction and a new viewpoint.

The RDCK will also invest close to $40,000 in a management plan for the new Balfour Beach Park. 

The acquisition of this piece of land is in keeping with a policy developed a few years ago to keep pieces of foreshore for public use.

Indoor recreation focused mainly on the Nelson and District Community Complex, with the workout area and pool areas getting the most use.

One of the most popular queries at the open houses was about the financing of the $4.5 million aquatic centre repair.  Why borrow the funds over a steep five-year term instead of choosing a more manageable ten-year term? was a common question.

“Although homeowners will pay an additional $27 annually [on a $400,000 home], it will actually cost much less in the long run,” explained Joe Chirico, General Manager of Community Services.

“By choosing a shorter term, taxpayers pay $720,000 less overall for the pool repair. We want to be as fiscally responsible as we can.” 

It’s not too late to comment on the master plan (www.rdck.ca.  Warning, it’s 150 pages!). Or submit your comments in person at the NDCC until May 16.

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