In March 2013 the City of Lacombe hired a consulting team, led by RC Strategies, in a proactive move to strengthen the quality of life for Lacombe residents by developing a Recreation and Culture Master Plan to address the recreation and culture needs and priorities related to indoor and outdoor facilities and services for the next 20 years.
The new Recreation and Culture Master Plan will provide dynamic and thoughtful guidance to the City of Lacombe in how it can sustain, enhance and strengthen the public provision of recreation and culture facilities and services and how the City can bolster the effectiveness of its partnerships.
The master plan is based on ensuring that all City residents and visitors have access to affordable and high-quality opportunities, thereby encouraging them to pursue healthy, active and engaged lifestyles.
After extensive public consultation and research, the consultants have concluded that residents value recreation, parks and culture, as 86% of respondents to the household survey said recreation services are important to their quality of life.
As well, 78% said cultural services are important to their quality of life.
Recreation, parks and culture are the services and amenities that contribute to the quality of life of residents. The provision of these services is important and the City has a role to play in this regard.
The City offers a good slate of recreation and culture facilities and spaces for residents and visitors. These existing facilities should be maintained, with additional sustainable investment. According to the research, there is capacity to enable more people to participate. Enhanced awareness of the opportunities and benefits of recreation and culture among residents is desirable and would increase utilization.
There is, however, a desire to see enhancement of the available recreation and cultural spaces in Lacombe. Approximately two-thirds (64%) of respondents to the household survey said new or upgraded facilities are needed.
Also, 63% of survey respondents indicated a willingness to pay increased annual property taxes to ensure that recreation and culture facilities, services and programs are available.
There are partnerships of varying types in Lacombe, and the opportunity exists to further this dynamic. Private-public partnerships can be an efficient and effective way to deliver recreation and culture services as existing processes, spaces, and expertise are leveraged to expand recreation and culture opportunities.
As well, volunteers and voluntary organizations play an integral role in the provision of recreation and cultural services in Lacombe.
A healthy volunteer base is very important and the consultants have recommended that the municipality provide ongoing support to the volunteers and their organizations.
The master plan also indicates that primary role of the City to date has been to identify program needs, monitor effectiveness of programs through public input and facilitate the delivery of programs primarily through partner groups.
Should the delivery of needed programs not be achievable through partner groups and/or the private sector, the City may provide direct programming related to recreation and culture as an alternative.
The Recreation and Culture Master Plan will be presented to City council for review and approval at the Oct. 15 regular council meeting.
Norma MacQuarrie is Lacombe’s chief administrative officer.