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Making it work: recreation campus to come under scrutiny in upcoming needs assessment

Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
By Timothy Schafer Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
May 16th, 2023

The city’s ‘recreation campus’ needs a facelift and a move is underway to make it over through the updating of the Recreation Masterplan.

The Nelson and District Recreation Commission No. 5 (NDRC5) is working to conduct a needs assessment to gain an understanding of the status of campus facilities and assets, and of community needs in advance of updating the plan.

A terms of reference has been drafted — and approved — and hinges upon the willingness of the City of Nelson and the Regional District of Central Kootenay (RDCK) to work together.

“The proposed terms of reference are clear that the assessment will require the RDCK and the City to work together in terms of setting project goals and expectations,” noted a City staff report to council.

The community campus is comprised of three hectares of P1 – zoned “institutional” land located downtown, and includes the Nelson and District Community Complex (NDCC), the Civic Centre, the Curling Rink and the Indoor Soccer Facility.

But a 2014 Parks and Recreation Master Plan recommended the NDRC5 develop a longer-term plan for the campus through a needs assessment. The objective of the needs assessment is to gain an understanding of the status of facilities, assets and community needs before plans are made by the NDRC to update the plan, to develop a long term plan or to “make commitments to new or end of life campus facility capital or operating funds.”

The project will be coordinated by the regional district Community Services staff with the needs assessment being completed by a consulting firm.

An extensive program of resident and stakeholder consultation and engagement will need to be implemented to gather a range of perspectives on current recreation services and opportunities and to identify current preferences and future needs for the community campus.

Needs assessment

There were several reasons why a needs assessment was warranted:

• the community complex is relatively new and was built onto an existing swimming pool;

• campus facilities are thought to be functioning below their capacity;

• the campus does not currently operate under a collective vision or program;

• there is no comprehensive shared understanding of patterns of use and demand, the community’s desires for use, and how community interests have changed; and

• there is a desire to increase overall citizen participation and maximize the public investment.

Source: Regional District of Central Kootenay

Inside the campus

The City of Nelson’s Civic Centre was considered the “best facility of its kind from Vancouver to Winnipeg” when it was opened in 1936 and has evolved to become a campus of recreation. The community campus is a regional centre for indoor recreation.

The campus is an example of the historic co-location of recreation use, but the facilities do not operate under a collective vision or program — only basic levels of coordination exist between NDRC and the City of Nelson.

The community complex was opened in 2005 and includes multipurpose rooms, aquatic centre, fitness facility and arena. The complex is owned by the regional district and governed by the NDRC.

Adjacent to the community complex are the City of Nelson-owned Civic Centre and Nelson Curling Rink.

The historic Civic Centre was built in 1935. The current facility consists of an ice rink (24,000 square feet), theatre, small gymnasium and dance studio (12,000 sq ft), and a soccer arena (15,500 sq ft). The adjacent curling rink and lounge (18,500 sq ft) is leased to the Nelson Curling Club.

Future infill opportunities exist on vacant and underutilized lands on the east side of Hall Street and also at the intersection of Cedar and Front Street.

Source: Regional District of Central Kootenay

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