As time goes by it seems Salmon Arm is outgrowing the recreational facilities available for residents, prompting discussion on what can be upgraded or what new facilities might serve the city well.
To that end, the City of Salmon Arm and the Shuswap Recreation Society are gathering input from the public on what they would be looking for in a new facility. Whether that be a sports centre, a community gathering place, performing arts centre or something in between, they are hoping feedback through an online survey and public information sessions will guide them in making the best choice for Salmon Arm.
“It’s not like building a house, we have to look at all possibilities and do what is best for the community. We have to look 25 years down the road and think what is the best option,” says Coun. Kevin Flynn. “What we really want to do is get the message out that we want input, and it will shape the project.”
An online survey is currently available on the Salmon Arm Recreation website and will remain open until Sept. 30 to gauge what the most in-demand services are and identify what people think is missing from the current lineup.
In terms of what the Recreation Society is considering, they are leaving things wide open until the community airs their suggestions. They report some pool users are frustrated because of capacity issues, there has long been a push for a performing arts centre in Salmon Arm and there is consideration of a new library facility, but they are waiting for feedback before moving forward.
The Recreation Society has hired a consulting firm to assist in this process, noting that the consultants are also on board with letting community input guide the project.
What is known, however, is that some aspects of the current facilities are aging out of their prime. The current recreational centre buildings are being assessed as to how much life they have left and whether they can be retrofitted to serve a new purpose rather than building new facilities.
“I think the impetus of this has been the aging of the pool and the (recreation centre) gym,” Flynn says. “We definitely need a gym, but it’s not a good basketball court – its not a good volleyball court… it’s workable and you can do both but could it easily be turned into a good performing arts centre?”
Another aim of the Recreation Society is furthering Salmon Arm’s status as a regional hub for recreation because of its central location in the Shuswap. With that in mind, planned upgrades will have a focus on drawing in more regional users and filling in what might be unavailable to smaller communities.
“We have been, for the last year, inquiring where users come from and there is a significant percentage that are from outside Salmon Arm,” says Dale Berger of the Shuswap Recreation Society. “I think the simple answer is this isn’t going to work unless it is regional. If we are doing all this discussion and planning, we need to get the regional input.”
To gather further in-person feedback, there will be a pop-up booth with information on the proposed facility upgrades Sept. 8-9 at the Salmon Arm Fairgrounds during the upcoming fall fair. This booth will offer residents a chance to provide their thoughts on what the facilities could use with more detail than the online survey allows.
As for the timeline moving forward, Flynn notes that completion will take several years and require a referendum and significant community support to get the ball rolling. In the short term, the online survey is open until Sept. 30 in addition to the fall fair pop-up information booth and an open house Nov. 18 at the recreation centre. An initial proposal is expected to be put before council by the end of January 2019.
The survey can be completed by visiting www.salmonarmrecreation.ca/survey.