Rec survey calls for changes

Filling a communications gap between the recreation needs of the community and what is available to do is just one of the objectives that were identified in the rec and leisure survey conducted here last fall.
This and other recommendations were outlined in a report by Community Services manager George Bell, that was approved by council at its Monday evening.
The report includes following recommendations:
•That the town, after consultation with community groups to determine levels of involvement, implement an annual information/sign up day for recreational services, sports groups, etc. in late August or early September at no charge to participants;
•That the town compete a master plan for parks and recreation as the last one was completed in 1988;
•As part of the master plan, the town must create additional walking route in Fort Frances, particularly in the west end of the community, by clearly marking existing sidewalks and walking trails. A walking route connecting the La Verendrye Parkway to the west end also should be established;
•That the town investigate the possibility of creating additional bike trails by eliminating parking on one side of the street, and marking those areas exclusive bike paths. This would be referred to Planning and Development for further discussion;
•That the town begin the process to expand and renovate/upgrade the change room facilities at the Memorial Sports Centre;
•That the tennis courts at the Memorial Sports Centre be replaced;
•That the town coordinate with the Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce to create a master list of recreational services, sports groups, facilities and suppliers of recreational services in Fort Frances in the immediate area. This could include a link from the town’s web site to the Chamber’s, where the list of service providers would be located;
•That the survey be reviewed annually and the community surveyed again every five years; and
•That the report be forwarded to the boards of education, Confederation College, RRFDC, EDAC and Chamber of Commerce, and made available to the public at the Civic Centre, library, museum and Memorial Sports Centre.
After studying the survey results, the Community Services executive committee also came to the conclusion that the town must address the need of our aging population.
“Our community is not unique; we are mirroring the rest of Canada with the surge in baby-boomers. Thus, there is and will be a greater demand/interest for recreation (low impact) and leisure activities,” wrote Bell in his report to council.
“The needs of our aging populations cannot be met as there is a shortfall in infrastructure to accommodate low impact activities,” he added.
As well, Bell said there is “a communication gap between the needs of our community and what is available to the community.”
Coun. Struchan Gilson, chair of the rec committee, said he felt the survey was well done, and congratulated Jim Cumming, who organized the survey, and all the volunteers who worked on it.
He stressed that while the survey pinpoints various areas for improvement, one most clear to him was activities and facilities for seniors.
“We must address the needs of our aging population,” said Coun. Gilson, adding seniors are an ever-growing segment of the town’s makeup.
He added that, overall, the survey serves as an important “baseline” to look at when it came to determining the need for community services here.
Coun. Rick Wiedenhoeft said he was impressed by the survey, and pointed out some of the recommendations made in the report lent themselves to be included in the town’s strategic plan, which council yet to really start working on.
  Fort Frances council mandated the recreation committee back in January, 2004, to survey the community’s recreation needs.
The rec survey was then distributed across town in early November, 2004, with the deadline to fill it out and turn it in on Nov. 30.
Several hundred households filled it out, representing a total of 354 female and 277 male occupants.
The results were as follows:
Walking and jogging were at the top of the list when it came to the cultural, leisure and recreational activities members of households participated in over the last 12 months, with 220 household members saying they did so.
The next 24 most popular included: fishing (188); boating (177); visiting park (176); biking (176); reading (174); outdoor swimming (163); concert (144); concert & theatre (128); camping (120); (indoor walking (114); playground equipment (113); golf (112); picnicking (107); indoor skating (105); visiting museum (99); ice fishing (95); playing music (92); fitness class (88); snowmobiling (88); bodybuilding/weight training (80); visiting museum (77); soccer (74) and sledding (73).
Less popular activities included listed on the survey included: woodworking (59); cross country skiing (54); downhill skiing (54); baseball (48); volleyball (44); summer youth camp (42); basketball (41); quilting (41); service clubs (40); continuing education (39); tennis (38); heritage arts & crafts (34); softball (33); senior social activities (33); church youth groups (31); horse riding (30); horse shoes (27); evening classes (23); gymnastics (22); archery (20); correspondence courses (19); martial arts (18); Sparks/Brownies (17); school intramural activities (11); T-Ball (three); and Cubs (zero).
Other activities households participated in over the last 12 months, but not listed on the original survey, included: curling (28); squash (16); bowling (11); skateboarding (eight); hunting (eight); library activities (seven); gardening (six); canoeing (five); indoor soccer (five); riding motorcycle (five); badminton (four); Rainy River Valley Field Naturalists (three ); Toastmasters (three); darts (three ); furniture restoration (three); volunteering (three); Eighth Street trails (three); tai chi (three); dance (two); chess (two); computer classes (two); scrapbooking (two); crafts (two); birding (two); Ultimate Frisbee (one); water polo (one); in-line skating (one); kayaking (one); snowshoeing (one); mushing (one); cards & bridge (one); Bingo (one); meetings (one); platform diving (one); going to farmers’ market (one); strength training for kids (one); music festival (one); and going to Curves for Women (one).
Of the additional facilities/activities those surveyed wanted to see in Fort Frances, a movie theatre here saw the most support, with 129 respondents wanting one, followed by walking/jogging trails, with 106 respondents.
The rest included: bike trails (91); nature trails (85); more public beaches (82); a water park (77); a skateboard/BMX park (74); mini-putt course (66); youth/teen centre (60); indoor walking track (60); improved swimming facility (58); indoor shopping mall (58); rock climbing (49); rollerblading/hockey facility (48); recreational dance classes (48); outdoor swimming pool (47); evening adult classes (44); street fairs (43); music festival (43); horseback riding (43); yoga (41); fishing facilities/boat rental (40); craft classes (40); indoor driving range (40); kids’ play structures (39); increased library services (38); amphitheater (38); after-school programs (35); cross-country ski trails (35); and visual arts/painting courses (35).
Somewhat less in demand were: parklands/campgrounds (34); summer kids’ programs (33); volleyball courts (33); snowboarding (33); basketball courts (29); photography club (29); social centre (26); gardening club (26); astronomy club (23); sewing club (22); more volunteering (22); mutli-cultural facility (22); water skiing (21); geneaology/family research (20); woodworking classes (20); parents and tots program (19); improved ice facility (19); birdwatching club (18); baseball/T-ball fields (16); model train club (15); martial arts (15) golf courses (13); motorcycle group (12); model cars/planes club (10); and a collector car club (10).  Four respondents wanted “nothing new” at all.
In households surveyed, the largest age group represented was 30-49 year-olds, followed by the 50-65 year-olds, and then six to 12 year-olds. The 66-85 year-olds ranked fourth, while 13-19 year-olds accounted for the fifth largest group.
Twenty to 29 year-olds were the third smallest group, followed by zero to five year-olds. No one over 85 was represented in the survey.
The age total per household ranged from about 30 years to over 200.
Those who turned in completed surveys last November were entered in a draw to win prizes of $250, $150, and $100 in Fort Frances Chamber of Commerce bucks. The draw was made at the Dec. 20 council meeting. The first-place winner was Cindy Yuill while Sherry Humphrey and Maureen Gustafson won the second- and third-place prizes.