By Mark Squibb | Vol 7 No. 13 (July 4, 2019)
The City of Mount Pearl is looking for public input on what recreation opportunities it can take advantage of, as it prepares a Recreation Master Plan, which will guide programming and facilities for the years 2020-2030.
To get that input, the City hosted two recreation Open Houses, one on Tuesday, June 18 at the Gloria Pearson Community Centre and one on Wednesday, June 19 at the Mount Pearl Soccer Hut, where residents could make suggestions, vote on recommendations, and engage with city staff and members of council.
Staff manned nine different booths, each boasting a different display board representing an area of the City’s recreation. Visitors were greeted with displays and signs such as ‘Walking and Jogging’ and asking, ‘What does Mount Pearl need more of?’
Each board had recommendations that residents could ‘vote up’ using blue dot stickers.
A senior’s centre, arts theatre and concert hall, indoor multipurpose facility, more lighting, and new trails seemed to be items which garnered the most ‘votes.’
People could also write their own suggestions to post to the board.
Some handwritten suggestions included running clubs, more inclusive programming, and a directory of what sports and programs are available.
Kevin Martin, Commanding Officer of the 284 Marconi Sea Cadets, was one resident out for the Wednesday night open house. “One thing that brought me out tonight was to see if the City would be willing to build an indoor facility to house all the cadets – both us, the Sea Cadets, the Air Cadets, and of course the Northern Ranger Navy League Cadets,” he told The Pearl. “Our foot print is too big: we’re using about five or six different buildings, and none of them are on a permanent basis.”
Martin said that such a facility could incorporate other service groups such as the Scouts and Girl Guides. He added that he, along with others, made the recommendation for such a facility to council two years back.
“They were extremely supportive of the idea,” he noted. “They said they wished I had come a year or two before, because (the federal program) Canada 150 was throwing out a lot of cash, and we could have had a facility, perhaps, being built… Mount Pearl is all about youth, so let’s help them, help us, help everybody.”
Claudette Coombs of the Mount Pearl Lion’s Club agreed with Martin. “A common space for all service clubs would be really, really good,” she said. “You could share resources there, you could have better connections, because we’re all working for the same goal. We could work much more efficiently if we work together, and if we have easy access to each other.”
Coombs also suggested an online directory, “a common website, or a page on the City’s site, that had everybody listed, had contacts listed, had a way for us to be able to connect everybody’s upcoming events.”
The City also hosted an online survey, which was responded to by over 2,000 people.
Mayor Dave Aker said he’s pleased with the engagement process.
“The feedback’s been fantastic,” he said. “We’re really happy with the response. Some of the attendance at the open houses were a bit light, but we’ve been in touch with all the community groups and all the recreation groups in the city, so we’re really confident that we’ve done a thorough job in gathering as much feedback as possible.
“There’s a broad range of community needs, for say, indoor programming,” he added, pointing to the many community groups such as seniors groups, cadet corps, service groups, including the Lions, the Kinsmen, and the Waterford River Valley Rotary Club, that avail of indoor spaces in the city.
He noted the Park Place Community Centre, a popular rental facility used by various community groups, isn’t quite up to par anymore.
“Park Place here in Mount Pearl is a very old building,” said the mayor. “It’s really not up to today’s standards in terms of air handling, and the environment inside is safe, but it’s old. The basement has issues, and the same with the roof. The accessibility of the building meets minimal standers but doesn’t really invite people with accessibility issues into the building.”
He said that residents are also looking for more outdoor facilities.
“We’re hearing from residents that they want more outdoor facilities, but not necessarily those facilities that would be utilized by a specific sporting or user group, but open air facilities, like a splash pad, or more playgrounds.”
Next, the City will be analyzing the data gathered.
Aker said the Council would have a general picture of the Recreation Master Plan before Budget 2020.