The Regional District of Nanaimo unveiled its draft master plan for District 69 (Parksville Qualicum Beach) recreational services, and residents responded in a series of public information sessions held throughout the region this week.
Dozens of visitors met face-to-face with RDN staff and master plan consultants, filled out feedback forms and strolled through a series of panels outlining the district’s recreational objectives and recommendations at Parksville’s Oceanside Place Wednesday, Nov. 22.
“People have been asking some good questions, some challenging questions — and that’s only right,” said Dean Banman, manager of recreation services for the RDN. “The general view is, ‘This is good; now do it.’”
Wednesday’s meeting in Parksville followed sessions earlier in the week in Nanoose Bay, Coombs and Qualicum Beach. The final open house was held Thursday, Nov. 23, in Qualicum Bay.
Attendees who spoke with RDN staff at Oceanside Place included residents representing both adult and youth hockey associations, youth soccer, swimming and synchronized swimming, and Parksville Curling Club executives.
The recreation services master plan process began in September of 2016, and in March of 27 the consultants, RC Strategies + PERC, released a community questionaire and began a series of discussions with community groups and stakeholders. The resident survey drew 1,687 responses, another 60 community group questionaires were filed, and 29 interviews and discussions were held with stakeholders.
Those responses all factored into creation of the draft plan, and this week’s open house sessions provided one more chance for the public to weigh in before the plan is finalized and presented to the RDN in March of 2018, said Brian Johnson of RC Strategies.
“We’re here trying to get as much information as we can on the draft master plan,” said Johnson. “And people can continue to make suggestions online until Dec. 14.”
The 80-page draft master plan includes 34 recommendations on short-, medium- and long-term recreational strategies and infrastructure, including two conceptual designs of an expanded Ravensong Aquatic Centre in Qualicum Beach.
Other infrastructure projects on the community’s “wish list” include a turf sport field — possibly with a track — a fitness and wellness centre, and community program space.
The draft recommendation on sport fields is for the RDN and its partners, including the City of Parksville, the Town of Qualicum Beach and School District 69 to “make better use of underutilized fields” and to monitor the utilization of the fields for three to five years. If warranted, the RDN could then consider retrofitting an existing grass field to artificial turf.
Its recommendation on a fitness centre is for the RDN to identify opportunities to integrate a centre into an existing facility, for example, the proposed Ravensong Aquatic Centre expansion. A larger-scale, stand-alone fitness and wellness facility would be revisited in 10 years as part of a new, multi-purpose facility.
Recommendations on community program space are to continue to place a priority on utilizing existing facilities and spaces, and to revisit the need for a new facility in five years.
To view the Draft District 69 Recreational Services Master Plan online, visit www.getinvolved.rdn.ca/recmasterplan. The page includes a feedback submission form to ask questions or make suggestions. Feedback must be submitted by Dec. 14.