Leisure Services Master Plan update continues

The update to Fernie’s Leisure Services Master Plan is almost complete and the public is about to get a sneak peek.

The update to Fernie’s Leisure Services Master Plan is almost complete and the public is about to get a sneak peek at the draft of the final product. The City is hosting the second of two public open houses Wednesday, May 15 from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Fernie Aquatic Centre.

The revamp of the Leisure Services Master Plan began earlier this year and will see an overhaul of the document that guides the City’s decision making when it comes to recreational programs, services, and facilities. The plan was last updated in 2004 and the revision process relies heavily on community input.

The first open house was held in February and the City also conducted an online survey to find out what the residents of Fernie want.

“Fernie is a very active community, residents are in and out of our facilities, and they have some significant concerns about the condition of our facilities, whether it’s age, or maintenance, or how our facilities meet their needs,” explained Cam Mertz, Director of Leisure Services. “We’re at a very interesting crossroads now where the City of Fernie has to decide on two different paths.

“Are we going to continue with all of our stand-alone facilities that the residents are stating they use very frequently, but not necessarily to the level that they want to participate in? Or, are we going to build new facilities because the cost of maintaining all these stand-alone facilities is too much? Should we build new facilities that are going to meet the needs of the community now and 20 years into the future?”

LEES and Associates, a landscape planning and design firm, has stepped in to help guide the development of the Master Plan. They received preliminary feedback from residents following a number of public engagements and consultations held throughout the winter and will be displaying their draft recommendations at the open house next week.

“This is the opportunity for people to qualify what is being put forward because this path is what we intend to follow for the next 20 years,” said Mertz. “No one intends for this plan to sit on the shelf, we want to actively implement and go forward with it, so it’s really important to gauge where everybody is. We’re going to actually put forward a plan of attack and we want to make sure that the community is on board.”

Representatives from LEES and Associates and the City of Fernie will be on hand from 6 to 8:30 p.m. that evening to discuss the proposed plan with the public.

The final document is expected to be complete in June 2013 and will provide the operational and capital framework to assist the City as they address the growth, development, and recreational priorities of the community.