During Monday night’s Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls, Michael Cleland and Steve Slawuta from RC Strategies presented their broad overview for developing a Parks and Recreation Master Plan (PRMP) that aligns with the town’s Strategic Plan.
In order to create a Parks and Recreation Master Plan that reflects the needs and desires of the citizens of Smiths Falls, a postcard survey will be mailed to every residence in Smiths Falls. “We want to balance investment and aspiration,” explained Slawuta.
Each postcard survey will be printed with a unique code which can only be used once, in order to prevent survey fraud and to hear from as many individual households as possible.
Councillor Wendy Alford pointed out that recreation is often thought of as team sports, but “can be a solitary pursuit, as we have seen through Covid – activities such as walking, running, cycling – I hope this is reflected in the recreation plan.” Councillor Niki Dwyer agreed that recreation goes far beyond hockey, for example, “not that there’s anything wrong with being a hockey town, but there’s a need for other leisure activities. Personally I’d like to see us make a better use of the facilities we do have.” She also pointed out the need for a good play structure in town.
Victoria Park’s small play structure along Smiths Falls’ picturesque waterfront was damaged in 2019 and has been left in a state of disrepair for well over a year.
Councillor Lorraine Allen pointed out that many residents enjoy taking their exercise in Smiths Falls’ beautiful green space along the canal, and that space for leisure is important to maintain.
“How do we go after our young people?” inquired Councillor Christopher McGuire, “Will there be any consultation with the schools to get students’ opinions?”
“Our approach to engagement is going to be pretty flexible – we would like to do that,” responded Slawuta. “We will have to work with Art [Manhire, Director of Community Services] to find the best ways to do that. I’m really encouraged that you have a youth member on your council and maybe we could get her feedback as well.”
Student Councillor Sarah Lagarde pointed out that youth comprise a significant portion of Smiths Falls’ population (approximately 16% of the town’s population is under 15 years of age), and their feedback would add value to the survey.
The Parks and Recreation Master Plan intends to build upon Smiths Falls’ existing strengths and make good use of our resources. To have your say on how that can best be done, keep an eye on your mailbox for the PRMP survey.