Should Regina have a brand new indoor aquatic facility in the next 25 years? How about modernized rec centres? What will the state out aging outdoor pools be?
These are questions that the proposed Recreation Master Plan attempts to answer. The consultant prepared document will be going to city council on Jan. 28 for debate and expected approval.
The extensive document is not meant to be policy, but a guide to inform future decisions based on public surveys, market trends, population density and services other cities provide.
Among the top priorities identified in the document, increasing capacity and improving quality of Regina’s indoor aquatic centres. The report notes that aquatic facilities are broadly considered one of the most important leisure facilities a municipality can provide. The current city owned facilities have an average age of 43 years.
“We haven’t seen details, we haven’t seen costing of what an indoor aquatic facility might cost, but let’s not kid ourselves, these projects cost money,” Ward 3 City Councillor Andrew Stevens said.
“If people want to invest and see these projects come to fruition we the need to talk about financing.”
That could be in the form of a multi-year dedicated mill rate increase, like with the Residential Road Renewal Program.
The report also recommends reducing the quantity of a number of facilities, while using resources to improve the quality of others. This includes outdoor pools (five), outdoor rinks (60), baseball diamonds (163) and outdoor basketball courts (29).
This can be a sensitive subject, as seen with the initial plan to close Maple Leaf Pool in favour of turning Wascana Pool into a destination water park.
“I think we have to read that through the lens of social inclusion and community needs. We saw with the Maple Leaf Pool debate that the community needs matter a great deal, and we have to balance that against what the experts and advisers have told us going forward,” Stevens said.
“Some community needs are very specific and they don’t need large infrastructure projects, they need localized infrastructure projects, especially in low income areas.”
With the city’s aging recreation infrastructure, the average age of an indoor rec facilities is 37 years, improvements are needed.
The city spends around $8 million running and maintain facilities annually. It would cost $199 million to replace everything at current service level, and $377 at modern standards. That won’t happen, but the figure gives an idea of how much it will cost to modernize rec facilities.
Additional recommendations in the report include adding a new cricket pitch as a short term goal, having the city negotiate with the Regina Lawn Bowling Club that they fully takeover maintenance and operations of lawns, and finding new ways to create community centres in existing spaces.
Stevens said he’s heard a proposal from Knox Metropolitan Church about opening up churches with declining membership that could serve as a dual purpose worship spaces and community centres. He believes this idea is worth pursuing.
For more specialized spaces, like indoor playgrounds and skateparks, the report recommends the city either develop plans when feasible or if private partnerships exist.