Residents and community organizations have expressed the need for new or enhanced facilities after a report was presented at the Regional District of Nanaimo Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday night. — NEWS file photo

Research shows residents place high value on recreation

Recreation Services Master Plan being developed for District 9

Parksville Qualicum Beach residents place a high value on recreational opportunities.

That’s one of the key findings revealed in research recently completed by consultants RC Strategies on the state of recreation in District 69. A report on the four-month survey was presented at the Regional District of Nanaimo committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday night.

The results showed that 98 per cent of residents across all communities in District 69 consider recreation to be important to their quality of life, community and attractiveness or appeal to the region.

Data was collected from residents via community survey, interviews and discussion sessions with participants representing a variety of community organizations, as well as from a community group questionnaire. The RDN received 1,687 responses to its resident survey and 60 responses to the community group questionnaire. An additional 29 stakeholder interviews and discussions were held.

The research included trends and leading practices, strategic planning and policy, data analysis that include utilization and financial matters, population and demographics, programming analysis and facility inventory.

All the data collected will be used to develop a recreation master plan for the greater Parksville Qualicum Beach region.

Overall satisfaction with recreation services and facilities in District 69 is 80 per cent, an increase from 67 per cent in 2006, when the last District 69 Recreation Master Plan was developed.

The primary reasons most residents take part in recreational activities are for health and exercise, entertainment, relaxation and time with family and friends. However, there are also barriers that keep residents from participating. Topping the list is lack of facilities, age and health issues, inconvenient times, location of facilities, cost and lack of time.

Residents and community organizations have expressed the need for new or enhanced facilities. The survey indicated that 51 per cent of households believe new or enhanced indoor recreation facilities are needed while 49 per cent favour new or enhanced parks and responded that outdoor recreation facilities are needed. However, around 30 per cent of residents are unsure on indoor or outdoor opportunities, which the consultants indicate is a fairly significant proportion.

A new swimming pool ranked the highest at 39 per cent followed by health and wellness fitness centre at 35 per cent, multi-purpose recreation facility at 33 per cent, performing arts centre at 18 per cent, teen and youth centre at 22 per cent, seniors centre at 14 per cent and ice arena at two per cent.

For outdoor activities, new walking and hiking trails topped the list with 45 per cent, natural parks and protected areas with 36 per cent, picnic areas and passive parks were at 27 per cent, bicycle and roller blade paths at 31 per cent, playgrounds at 14 per cent, a track and field facility at 13 per cent, and sports fields at eight per cent.

The consultants are now going to evaluate the findings of the research and develop a draft of the master plan, which will target four specific areas. They include Ravensong Aquatic Centre expansion feasibility and demand; possible alternative uses for the Community Arena; demand and feasibility for an outdoor multi-sport complex; and current and future demand for the Community Arena to operate as a curling club.

The draft of the research report will now be presented to the District 69 Commission and the Recreation Services Master Plan Advisory Committee for feedback and comments prior to inclusion in the master plan.

The survey results are now available at http://www.rdn.bc.ca/cms.asp?wpID=3929.