The RM of Headingley spends up to $150,000 of its annual budget on parks and recreation, so its council wants to make sure they get the maximum return while meeting local residents’ needs.
Expanding the local trail system with a focus on active transportation, improving river access, constructing a splash pad and water park and a feature image park, and possibly adding space for a fitness centre and meeting place to the Headingley Community Centre are the main new projects outlined in the draft update to the municipality’s 2009 parks and recreation master plan.
Consultant Jack Harper unveiled the draft plan at a public meeting on Feb. 25, with about 55 residents attending.
"The plan is used as a guiding document for the municipality to focus their resources from year to year," he said.
To develop the draft plan, Harper, Headingley councillor Jim Robson and others consulted about 12 community groups involved in local recreational activities, such as the Headingley Grand Trunk Trail Association and Phoenix Recreation Association, to discuss their needs.
Phoenix Recreation Association president Sandra Miller said the draft plan holds no great surprises for her group. However, she would welcome the addition of a splash pad/water park at Phoenix Recreation Centre.
Over 200 people responded to an online recreation survey made available to Headingley residents last fall.
Harper said survey respondents listed walking/hiking, cycling and swimming as their top three physical activities. About 300 of Headingley’s 2,500 residents are registered in swimming programs in Winnipeg, but he cautioned against assuming this shows the need for a public pool to be built in Headingley.
"If these (Winnipeg) facilities are meeting your needs, then to duplicate them here would result in low use."
Headingley’s proximity to Winnipeg is one of the factors that must be considered when looking at recreation needs, he added. Others include the growing number of seniors and children under 14 years, future development within CentrePort and at Red River Exhibition Park/Assiniboia Downs, and the need for a community identity.
"We know that the geographic circumstances of Headingley work against an integrated identity," Harper said. This could be partially addressed by continued development of the trail system connecting subdivisions, the Headingley Grand Trunk Trail and other areas.
Past chair of the Grand Trunk Trail Association Karl Gompf said he feels the draft plan supports a growing trend among Manitobans focusing on physical activity.
"I could see Headingley becoming a hiking and cycling destination."
Harper said the new parks and recreation plan must be linked with the municipality’s development plan, now also being revised.
Once the parks and recreation draft plan is approved by council, it doesn’t mean that work will begin immediately on any of the new projects. Harper said time is needed for the RM to set aside the money required and also to explore partnerships with public, private and non-profit groups.