An extensive public engagement process on parks was recently completed in Area C and a report on the key findings is now available. The process included a visioning workshop with the Area C Parks Commission, 11 stakeholder interviews, four community-specific open houses, five meetings with First Nations bands and the Shuswap Trail Alliance, random telephone surveys with 200 full-time and 75 seasonal residents, online surveys completed by 142 people and information gathered from kiosks in several Area C parks.
Key findings are summarized as follows:
• Walking and hiking are the most popular recreational activities. More flat walkways and improved walking access to parks and community centres emerged as key needs.
• Numerous suggestions were given for park improvements including better maintenance, increasing the number of recreation areas/parks and expanding activities and facilities for children, youth and seniors.
• New park needs focused on a community park in Blind Bay with sufficient space for community gatherings, festivals and events in addition to active park amenities, as well as a new waterfront park in Sorrento. The idea of a waterfront boardwalk and pier in Blind Bay was proposed.
• Specific suggestions were noted in the report for several parks, playgrounds, beaches and trails, and can’t be covered in detail here. New amenities and facilities were proposed, along with more opportunities for environmental and cultural programs and supports. More facilities for seniors were suggested such as paved walking paths, benches, sun shades and social gathering areas.
• Concerns were cited about water quality affecting recreational use.
• Connecting parks and trails with walkways to create a green space network was recommended.
• Needs were cited for outdoor arts, cultural and interpretive installations, along with an amphitheatre and/or performance space.
• Community associations and halls were identified as important providers of recreational programming. Volunteer-run recreation facilities are well-used with high levels of community satisfaction. Most popular indoor activities included local celebrations, fitness classes, social gatherings, art shows and concerts.
• About half of residents use private recreational facilities largely because these were not provided by the CSRD. A minority cited a need for an indoor multi-use facility and/or swimming pool.
This public engagement process focused on adults, so there were few inputs provided directly from youth or children. We hope to remedy this by conducting a youth forum sometime in the spring. The complete report of findings will be posted on the CSRD website at www.csrd.bc.ca. I would encourage you to review it as there will be further opportunities to influence the new parks master plan during the second public engagement phase in 2017.
Our sincere thanks are extended to all those who took the time to provide their opinions and ideas. If you are interested in contributing to your community parks on an ongoing basis, you can volunteer to serve on the Area C Parks Commission. To do so, please complete and submit the Expression of Interest Form available to you on the CSRD website.
-Paul Demenok is the Area C Director for the Columbia Shuswap Regional District