Feedback requested for Recreation Master Plan

By Allan Bradbury
Staff Writer

The Town of Fort Frances has begun work on creating a long-term plan for the town’s recreation future and they want to know residents’ opinions.

Nathan Young is the Recreation and Culture Manager for the Town of Fort Frances. He says the plan is to create a guide for the long-term future of the town’s recreation sector.

“The master plan is to get a comprehensive document that helps guide our decisions in the next five to 10 years on enhancing and bettering our recreation for the community,” Young said. “The plan looks at what we have, in terms of facilities and recreation opportunities. Like our sports fields, playgrounds, beaches etc. And sort of seeing as we move forward with our plans, what facilities need work, what other programs can we be offering, what gaps do we have in our demographics in terms of what programs we offer.”

In an effort to gauge what residents of Fort Frances are looking for the Town has launched an online survey.

“The survey is a very important part of piece of [looking at how the town moves forward], we did a town staff, internal stakeholder meeting with the consultants, and then we did a version of that with our core user group, those that use the [Memorial Sports Complex] like our minor hockey and figure skating clubs and Cyclones Swim Team to get their feedback,” Young said. “That’s starting to sort of shape the consultants’ idea of what’s going on… Then the survey is that first entry point for the public to start putting their feedback into the plan. From there they’ll meet with the mayor and council and get them to weigh in on the project after the survey is done so there’s some talking points to bring forward. Then there’ll be a public open house engaging youth as well as the general public to kind of input their suggestions and input on how we shape the plan.”

Young says he hopes that residents will be honest when filling out the survey for accuracy.

“I’m hoping to hear an honest truth from residents,” he said. “When we go into these surveys we want to be filling them out as truthfully as we possibly can. We’ve been saying [we want] the good, the bad and the ugly. We need to know what our residents are feeling about our recreation offerings and the true picture of where we’re at so we know how to improve.”

The process began with the RFP for consultants going out in the summer and the town started work with the consultants in August. After some delays, the hope is to have the master plan by the end of January.

Young says they picked consultants RJ Burnside and Associates because they like their approach.

“When we looked at the submissions for the project, RJ Burnside had a comprehensive approach that put public engagement and feedback at the forefront in the core of developing the plan,” Young said. “Because we definitely wanted a plan for the community, by the community. That was one of our main points in the RFP and Burnside’s able to deliver on that.”

Though nothing has been scheduled to this point the hope is to have public meetings about the master plan some time at the end of November or in early December.

Young says being new to the area has helped him and the rest of the recreation and culture department bring new ideas to the table. The department has seen a fair amount of turnover in the last few years including at the museum, library and sports complex.

“A lot of us are new to [the Town] and that’s allowing us to bring in some new ideas and some new programming ideas,” Young said. “So we’re already starting to think outside the box, with our programming, especially with the pool closure coming up, and seeing what other ways we can activate the community through recreation opportunities. I think that there are large opportunities in our natural areas like our Eighth Street Trails and our Sorting Gap Marina to bring recreation events and programs out to those areas, instead of just within the Sports Centre.”

He says he realizes there are struggles with the Memorial Sports Centre but he wants to hear others’ opinions.

“The challenges that we have within the Sports Centre, I feel like a lot of us are already aware what those challenges are. Those were, were definitely highlighted in the feedback sessions yesterday in terms of long-term ice year-round ice, accessibility in the pool, the battle to get equitable rentals of the facility or use of the facility,” he said. “So I think that I’m looking forward to getting some feedback on how we can maybe align that a little bit better to be more equitable. But I think it’s that outside of the box thinking I’m looking forward to, those ways we can activate the community outside of just the Sports Centre and recognizing that recreation is a larger bubble than just hockey or swimming or figure skating.”

To Fill out the survey visit