Revelstoke city council gave final approval to the City of Revelstoke’s new Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan on Sept. 13.
The 93-page document will guide the city’s Parks, Recreation and Culture plans over the next 10 to 20 years. The document is mix of policy directions and quite a few very specific concrete plans. The latter include recommendations for specifics like a dog off-leash area, community gardens, a Frisbee golf course, improved river and trailhead access, beach volleyball facilities and a Revelstoke Waterfront Trail. Some of the more abstract goals outlined in the plan include improved youth engagement, a staffing-level analysis, better coordination with provincial agencies, improved integration with tourism strategies and fostering community partnerships.
So, what happens now?
In an interview with the Times Review city Parks, Recreation and Culture department director Kerry Dawson explained what comes next. She’ll be submitting proposed terms of reference for a new Parks, Recreation and Culture Advisory Committee to council in about six weeks. That committee will be tasked with implementing the plan by working with staff and community groups to bring recommendations forward to council.
Dawson said she envisions a committee that that will work with user groups and staff to develop ideas, plans and proposals. They’ll do the legwork and consultation and bring completed recommendations forward to council.
At their Sept. 13, mayor David Raven double-checked that council will have final say on all items with budget implications. Planning director John Guenther said it would, “[The plan] is just framing this in terms of planning,” he said.
So, how can you get involved? We asked Dawson about specific projects and directions.
The Parks, Recreations and Culture Committee
Getting on the new committee is the most obvious step. Dawson said she was aiming for broad representation from different segments of the community. She also floated the idea of realigning some other committees to make sure the committee was better integrated. In the end, city council has final say on the terms of reference for the committee. If you’re interested in being on it, let her know, she said.
Budget implications: Isn’t this going to cost taxpayers a bomb?
Not so, says Dawson, and community and user-group involvement is the key. There are 54 key recommendations for park facilities, projects and policies, but not all of them are going to happen, she said. Community advocates could work towards a specific project, such as developing a Frisbee golf course, for example. The advocates would work then work with the committee to develop the idea and consult with the community on the project. Outside fundraising will often be the key. “They need to do due diligence, get the process going,” Dawson said. “The city doesn’t have a big pot of money.”
Take the skatepark and bike parks as examples
Many of the projects identified in the plan are already underway. For example, the Illecillewaet Pedestrian Bridge is on the list and the construction contract has already been awarded. Both a new skatepark and bike parks are identified on the list of 54 recommendations. The process for both of those facilities bounced between staff and council for well over a year. Once the new parks committee is in place, it will be their job to work with the stakeholder groups to stick-handle the proposals through consultation and planning and then take a recommendations to council.
What about the arts & culture strategy?
A separate arts & culture strategy is being developed and is set to be unveiled online this week. The arts & culture strategy was a latecomer to the parks plan, which has been in development for two years. Dawson said they opted not to rush the arts component but instead add it onto the parks plan later. Public comment will start once the arts plan is available.
Let’s talk specifics: The Revelstoke Forum
The Revelstoke Forum is amongst the big-ticket items on the list of recommendations. The 1,100-seat arena was built in 1967, and the parks plan notes a typical lifespan for that kind of building is 50 years. “Consideration must be given to future replacement or extensive renovations,” the plan notes. “We can also repair the existing arena,” Dawson says.
She says the new committee will play a vital role in determining what to do in this situation. Although the building is old, the ice plant has been upgraded over the years, so a renovation is possible. The plan also recommends exploring plans for a public-private partnership (a so-called ‘P3’) for the replacement of the facility, saying the Revelstoke Grizzlies have expressed interest in collaborating.
Either way, the committee will guide the final decision.
Frisbee golf, horseshoes and beach volleyball
These recommendations are on the other end of the cost spectrum from a new hockey rink. All of these items have been tagged a priority projects to develop. The order and timeline of their development will be prioritized by the new parks committee, in conjunction with any user group advocates who may step up to champion a particular project.
Parks land acquisition
The plan outlines 22 very specific targets for new park acquisitions. They include new parks to be built in developing neighbourhoods like Arrow Heights, and lots of trail connections. Many of the proposed new additions seek to add small pieces of property to existing parks, or formalize de facto parks or portions of existing parks that are not technically parks.
For example, the bocce ball court on Fourth Street near the rail crossing is on CP Rail property.
There are several trailheads leading out of town that don’t belong to the city, although they are currently used by the public. The plan hopes to formally adopt them into the city parks fold.
Several parks are proposed for Arrow Heights, although the plan doesn’t get too deep into specifics. They include a neighbourhood park on Hay Road and a neighbourhood park with views of the Illecillewaet River and Mount Revelstoke. Likewise in Columbia Park, a viewpoint is planned for Pearkes Drive North.
The Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan outlines an extensive overhaul of the city’s trail network. As mentioned above, this includes bringing unofficial trails into the fold. Times Review readers will be familiar with the ongoing effort to create a bicycle network that will connect Mt. Macpherson with Revelstoke Mountain Resort, including new cycling infrastructure in the city.
Dawson emphasizes the trail component is a “big aspect” of the parks plan.
There are several other components, many of them earning their own recommendation. They include the (controversial) Revelstoke Waterfront Trail, part of a plan to connect Centennial Park with the trail at the Big Eddy Bridge.
Another item is the ‘Big Eddy Connector,’ an on-street cycle and pedestrian connection on Big Eddy Road to the Big Eddy Bridge.
One recommendation calls for the development of a loop trail around Williamson’s Lake. Another recommendation is for a ‘Jordan River Trail’ running from the Big Eddy Bridge to the Lake Revelstoke reservoir along the west bank of the Columbia River.
The plan references several environmental initiatives. The city is moving towards a native plants landscaping policy. Another recommendation calls for better invasive species management, including and “early detection and rapid response” program. Environmental stewardship education programs are recommended, as are water conservation strategies such as low-flow irrigation, reduced turf areas and storm-water management programs.
Development Cost Charges
The plan recommends a Development Cost Charge (DCC) bylaw to support new capital projects such as parks and trails. The plan says the existing funding structure supports maintenance and capital replacements, but not new facilities. Although discussion of the plan at the Sept. 13 city council meeting was brief, this component of the plan raised eyebrows. Mayor David Raven wanted assurances that council had final say on budget items. If a new DCC is proposed, council will have the final say.
Although concrete proposals like a new Forum or new parks are easier to wrap your head around, the plan also contains many new policy directions. Unfortunately, there are too many to include them here. They include things like fostering private recreation opportunities, liaising with the CSRD on their park plans, fostering volunteer programs, analysing staffing levels and inventorying culturally significant sites.
The next steps
In response to many of my specific questions, Parks, Recreation and Culture director Dawson emphasizes that it will be the new parks committee that will determine the answers to my questions. “The whole focus is to get a Parks, Recreation and Culture committee that has all components of the entire community that can sit down and say, ‘This is important,’” and set priorities, she said.
If you’re interested in being on the committee, make it known, she said.