Monday, September 9, 2013

Surveying Recreation and Culture Needs in Pelham

In March, I wrote here about the Executive Summary that staff prepared for Council about the recreational and cultural reports that various Councils have received over the years. I also wrote that “…because it’s been discussed and desired for many, many years, Council recently approved the development of a business case for community recreational facilities.”

As part of a creative problem solving session last December, Council identified reasons for such an Executive Summary and a business case:
• Council wants to develop the Town-owned-lands in East Fonthill (32 acres at Regional Road 20 and Rice Road) in the best manner and in conjunction with other property-owner groups;
• Council wants to define the recreational and cultural services the Town needs now and for the future;
• Council wants to stay focused on deciding what to do with Town facilities and those Town-owned-lands.

In June, the Town awarded the “Request for Proposals” for a Business Case to LeisurePlan International Inc. – a firm that specializes in planning and market research for recreation and leisure activities including YMCAs and municipalities.

We were hoping that their market analysis and business case study would have been completed by now. However, the CAO reported to Council last week on something many have been saying for a long time: “A review of all previous studies was undertaken which confirmed that no significant or meaningful financial work was completed requiring additional financial analysis for both an arena and community centre.”

So that they can present a comprehensive report and so that we can have meaningful discussions about recreation in Pelham, LeisurePlan began a phone survey last week. Randomly selected Pelham residents will be asked to participate in a brief 10 minute telephone survey. Residents will be asked about their recreation and culture habits and preferences. LeisurePlan will vary the time of calls so that no biased day or hour exists, and will survey more than 1,000 residents so that they can achieve a statistically significant result. All personal information collected will remain strictly confidential.

Over the last number of years, many in the community have expressed the desire for increased recreational and cultural services. I am pleased that we are finally undertaking a market analysis and business case. This statistically valid survey will gauge the need for these services and evaluate whether a business case exists to expand services like indoor aquatics, arena ice-times, fitness programs, and other facilities.

I hope that we can publicize the results of the business case over the next couple of months so that Council can work together with you and your neighbours to finally decide on the future recreational, cultural, and wellness facilities and needs for the Town.