The Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015 – Pathways to Wellbeing was designed to be a Guide in stimulating policies and practices in recreation and related jurisdictions across Canada in order to improve overall wellbeing. Since 2015, the Framework has influenced the content of at least 10 Parks and Recreation Master Plans in Saskatchewan, with more in development.
Two communities that recently created a Parks and Recreation Master Plan include the Town of Battleford and the City of North Battleford. These communities worked together and created a joint plan.
I spoke with the Town of Battleford’s Manager of Parks and Recreation, Jordan Schechtel, and the City of North Battleford’s Director of Parks & Recreation, Cheryl Deneire, who shared their experience in creating the plan. Schechtel and Deneire collaborated on their responses to my questions, presented below.
Why did you decide to create a Parks & Recreation Master Plan?
“We wanted to review the state of parks and recreation in the Battleford(s) and determine if the programs, services and amenities we were providing were meeting the needs of the residents. We also saw the need to develop a planning document that would help guide the department(s) and make sure the investments made into parks and recreation were strategic and based on input from the community, while also taking a broader view of the entire region.”
“The Town and City also wanted to see how they could better deliver services to its residents. Residents use programs and facilities on both sides of the river interchangeably and don’t necessarily recognize municipal boundaries when it comes to parks and recreation.”
Why include the Framework, and what was the benefit in doing so?
‘Both the Town of Battleford and the City of North Battleford had previously endorsed the Framework. We wanted to develop a Parks and Recreation Master Plan which would guide parks and recreation over the next 10 years so we felt it was important to make sure what we were doing was in line with the Framework and would help us address the Goals and Priorities identified in the Framework. It was also felt that by building the Framework into the Plan it could be useful when applying for future grant funding.“
“In addition, the City of North Battleford council now requires a connection to the Plan when developing the departments’ capital projects and the department is expected to address the needs identified as a priority which helps us to stay focused on the actual needs of our residents-including the towns at our facilities. Often groups with the loudest voice get their projects moved forward and the Plan will help us keep those voices in perspective.”
What was the biggest challenge in creating the Parks & Recreation Master Plan?
“Our Plan is unique in that it is a joint Parks and Recreation Master Plan between the town and the city. Whenever you are doing something between two municipalities it seems to complicate things as you have competing interests from different councils and administrations. Also trying to coordinate meetings with the two municipalities was very challenging at times.”
"A big part of the process is getting input from residents on their needs and wants. However it was difficult to get residents to take an interest in the project. Hiring a consultant who has creative ways to engage with residents was definitely helpful."
What advice do you have for other communities looking to create a Parks & Recreation Master Plan?
"Prior to starting the process try to figure out exactly what you are hoping to achieve by creating a plan. If it is something very specific you are hoping find answers to like, “should we be building a new swimming pool, or should we build a trail system?” maybe you just need to complete a feasibility study or a Trails Master Plan rather than a whole Parks and Recreation Master Plan."
"At the same time, you don’t want your Master Plan to be so broad that you are not able use it or reference it in a practical way. Establish what you want the plan to achieve and clearly communicate this to your Consultant. Also get you’re your Councilors involved early in the process as you eventually need their support when it comes to implementation."
For More Information
The Battlefords Joint Parks & Recreation Master Plan can be accessed through the Town of Battleford's website
or the City of North Battleford’s website
To review A Framework for Recreation in Canada 2015 – Pathways to Wellbeing, visit CPRA's website.
For more information on how to apply the recommendations of the Framework for Recreation in Canada in your community, contact SPRA Field Consultant Dan Gallagher at at email@example.com
or call 306-780-9218.