Prince Edward County’s Newspaper of Record
May 21, 2024
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News
April 24, 2024
Volume 194 No. 17

Parks Plan

A ten-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan, designed to meet the needs of a diverse and evolving community, was rolled out for Council earlier this month.
<p>The Parks and Recreation Master Plan indicates Prince Edward County is well served by the current compliment of soccer fields and baseball diamonds although more data is needed to gauge their utilization rates. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)</p>
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan indicates Prince Edward County is well served by the current compliment of soccer fields and baseball diamonds although more data is needed to gauge their utilization rates. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

The County is in the final phase of a multi-year Key Findings and Strategic Directions exercise. Over the next 60 days, Jon Hack of Sierra Planning & Management and senior staff will develop an action plan to stage and implement over 50 directives in the coming decade.

A Changing Fabric

Jon Hack. (Jason Parks/Gazette Staff)

Picton and Wellington are the main recreation hubs in the County. The Master Plan also provides direction for secondary centres with indoor/outdoor facilities —community halls, playgrounds, and sports fields — as well as outdoor hub areas further afield.

Demographics set the direction. Those 65+ now make up 33 per cent of Prince Edward County, up from 25 per cent of the population in 2011. But numbers are also increasing in the 20-39 cohort, which has risen to 17 per cent of the total population since 2011.

“The County is getting older and younger at the same time and we need to plan for both of those demographics,” Mr. Hack said.

Directives respond to community engagement surveys, user-group workshops, and outreach to external stakeholders. But even with direct input, a Master Plan won’t work without community support. 

Indoor Spaces

The report made special mention of the County’s ten standing town halls, recommending they be kept in good condition for use as community spaces into the future.

When it comes to ice rinks, the County is well served. But both the Wellington and Picton arenas struggle to recover operating costs. While town rinks typically operate at a loss, in the County, cost-recovery rates have dropped dramatically since the pandemic. Picton used to recover 33 per cent of its costs annually; that number has slipped to 15 per cent. In Wellington, cost recovery has gone from 34 to 18 per cent. 

Last year, the new Dukedome cost the County $914,763. One directive involves restoring cost recovery rates to pre-pandemic levels.

The community is unique in that it does not own any of its gymnasiums and aquatic facilities. Six gyms are owned by the School Board. Short-term directives call for the creation of a Joint-Use Agreement with the School Board for better access. Long term, the aim is to develop a municipal gymnasium with other indoor recreational uses.

Mr. Hack said PEFAC, the County’s main aquatic facility, is well worth its annual investment of $70,000.

The 10-year Parks and Recreation Master Plan recognizes PEFAC’s role as the community’s lone aquatic centre provider. (Gazette file photo)

Other directives include planning for a  a multi-use community recreation centre that includes a pool. An expansion at the Wellington arena to include a pool is a key point of the plan. “It’s time to start to thinking about opportunities for the next generation of community infrastructure,” he said.

Museum directives include adding recreational assets and enhancing park features at various museum sites. Macaulay Heritage Park is a critical asset that should be developed as an event centre, said Mr. Hack.

Outdoor Spaces

       A master plan for the Wellington Ball Park and Exhibition Grounds is coming. Other outdoor space directives include a second splash pad in the north and further implementation of the Wellington Beach Management Plan.

       The Millennium Trail is the backbone of a County trail system and, along with a trail plan, connections to new residential developments in Picton and Wellington are encouraged.

Programming Provider

 82 per cent of respondents to a recent survey said they believe the County has a role to play in directly delivering recreation programs to its residents.

“People want programming,” said Mr. Hack.

Currently, recreation needs are served across a number of organizations, community groups, service clubs, recreation committees, and individual instructors. To meet the needs of a growing and evolving population, Mr. Hack said this also must also change. 

“With investment in new facilities, the County’s role as a program provider will need to develop over time and will become more hands-on.” 

A level-of-service threshold would create either more support for groups that supply programming, or have the municipality take on that role. 

To do so would require hiring a recreation coordinator. 

This text is from the Volume 194 No. 17 edition of The Picton Gazette
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