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- Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Last night an overview of the draft Owen Sound Recreation, Parks and Facilities Master Plan was presented at a public meeting that attracted 22 people and almost as many City staff, councillors and advisory committee members. The full plan is  posted on the City website today.

The presentation by Dave Aston from MHBC Planning reviewed the reasons for updating the City's ten year old plan, and the actions that had come from that plan – including the Rec Centre, skateboard park, and many facility upgrades. He calls the Master Plans "catalysts for action".

Our changing demographics and other City policies and plans, including those for trails, transportation and land use, intersect with this review.

Our median age in Owen Sound is 48 - a little older than the Ontario median age of 41.3, but the consultant noted that the anticipated growth in the city may come from young adults and young families so decisions must be based on both current and future residents. Access to playgrounds and both structured and unstructured activities are in the mix.

Both Pam Coulter, the Director of Community Services, and the consultant from MHBC were very impressed by the public engagement so far - the 500 plus responses to the request for public input into the plan.

Respondents felt that children and seniors had the most recreation and leisure progamming , and that teenagers, followed by adults, had the least.

The top three interests for new resources were: indoor turf facility for year-round activities; pickle ball; and dance lessons for adults, and this master plan will provide the framework for discussion with users and partners about the feasibility of new facilities or programs.

Some respondents on social media felt that the questions in the public survey asked about their experience, but did not allow them to speak about their vision for the City. "I may not use playgrounds much, but I want them fully accessible to the children who do," was one comment.

Maps of the City showing parks, trails, playgrounds, areas of potential parks and those being considered for "repurposing or disposition" will be on the City website and posted in the Community Services offices at the temporary location of City Hall at the professional building.

"Feedback respecting the Parks, Recreation & Facilities Master Plan Update DRAFT Report is encouraged and will be accepted until January 12, 2018 and can be emailed to Julie Welch of MHBC Planning at [email protected] with the subject line OWEN SOUND."


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