PRC Masterplan Consultation

Mayor Sandra Cooper and members of Collingwood Council participated in A PRC Masterplan Consultation on Monday January 15th to share preliminary findings and trends, to discuss strengths, assets and challenges to PRC, and to suggest next steps in the detailed process.

Parks, Recreation and Culture Director Dean Collver saw this as a great opportunity for everybody to be all together at once to participate in the very important PRC program.

As a part of the presentation, the following question was put on the floor for discussion:
What is missing, what is needed? What do you see as the gaps and areas of improvement needed in Collingwood related to parks, recreation and culture?

While our parks and world class trail system along with the growth of arts and culture in the community received rave reviews, the same could not be said about the public perception to date of the aging Eddie Bush Memorial Arena along with the two newer Sprung facilities, the Central Park Arena and Centennial Aquatic Centre. More specifically, the perceived life spans of all three facilities along with the unreliability of the outdoor rink at Central park have come in to question.

The Eddie Bush arena has certainly stood the test of time. It opened in 1949 and while recent major upgrades have been made to the facility including equipment upgrades, new seats and a new cement floor, the facility is still functioning well and serves as a major attraction in the centre of Collingwood’s historic downtown district.

Cost for providing recreational services was a major talking point.

Mayor Sandra Cooper looked to communication and finances as two of the challenges facing the study.

“Communication and looking to the outreaching future, there is a cycle, baseball for instance, it comes through a cycle, tennis goes through a cycle and so forth, and if we can look in that crystal ball and determine in the far outreaching and plan for it and at least have some reserves or at least the studies, the background to support what is required in the far reaching future.”

Mayor Cooper touched on the idea of user fees as something to think about to offset future expenses.

“What is needed? Well I think again looking at finances to determine who pays. We do have our community paying taxes and we want to address that and it’s a challenge for those who don’t use facilities but are paying through their taxes. And others with suggestions that they may not live in our property tax community so I think that in determining how everything will be supported I guess user fees for instance. Certainly I have a list of challenges however I think looking at what is missing and what are the gaps I’ll leave it at that.”

The discussion once again came back to the additional costs a community faces in running stand- alone recreation facilities throughout the town.

In addition, the proposed life-expectancy of the two Sprung structures has been called into question as a part of the PRC Masterplan Consultation process involving council.

Councillor Kathy Jeffery focused on the pressure put on town finances to run multiple facilities at separate locations.

“There are ongoing things such as the draining of financial resources, in terms of even some of the newer facilities such as the bubble facilities and maybe a shorter than anticipated life expectancy for those and how we plan going forward in terms of their replacement, and I think that this is probably monumental.“

Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson agreed with Jeffery’s concerns.

“From a sustainability perspective your operational dollars go up astronomically when you’re operating separate facilities.”


The Sprung facility, Central Park Arena, is home to many special events including Hockey Day in Collingwood featuring hockey games between elementary and secondary school students

Mayor Sandra Cooper surveys the construction of the new Central Park Arena

Saunderson said he was of the opinion that a huge gap in the PRC portfolio is the lack of a community centre. He said there needs to be a commitment to good planning when looking to the future, particularly for recreation facility replacement.

“The number one gap on my list is the planning process. We went out and did our community based strategic plan, we’ve done a waterfront master plan, and without a plan you have no road map and you have no way for the population to judge you in terms as are you are producing, and you need your goals and your milestones.”

Saunderson said that without a solid operational plan in place you won’t know what will drive your capital agenda.

“I would say a lot of investments have gone on in this community in the last ten years, particularly for recreation, have been very ad hoc.”

Throughout the process the public has had opportunities to chime in as to what is perceived to be strengths and weaknesses in Collingwood’s Parks, Recreation and Culture landscape.

Saunderson says he wasn’t surprised by the glowing reports received for the parks, trails and culture aspect of the department, but he wasn’t happy to see negative public comments regarding existing recreational facilities.

“It’s disappointing to see in the gaps and challenges from the public that they identified the baseball diamonds, the Eddie Bush Arena and the Centennial Aquatic Centre as ‘lows,’ because we’ve just invested about 14 million dollars in those facilities in the last five years. This is disappointing to see. This strategic plan process to give us evidence based parameters on what the public wants and what they’d like to see will help us in making a plan for what we see in investing in the public and how we can sustain that.”

The Deputy Mayor said his number one focus is on the need for strategic planning to chart a course and identify what needs to happen.

“We have aging plants and facilities here, with the Eddie Bush. There are realistic life spans for those sorts of buildings so we have to take that into account. As Councillor Jeffery noted with the Sprung buildings, there seems to be life timeframe issues that are going to have to be dealt with and if we are looking out ten to fifteen years then that’s going to be a road we’ll have to cross again.”


The downtown arena, opened in 1949, has seen many recent upgrades, and still functions well as one of the grand heritage arenas in the province

Saunderson said he is trying to set the table to begin the process of bringing Collingwood’s facilities up to the high standard of excellence delivered by our parks and trails.

“A gap for me is that our facilities don’t live up to what we have in terms of our external attributes in terms of parkland and trails and it would be nice to see the community close that gap.”

Mayor Sandra Cooper looked to communication as one of the challenges facing the study.

“Communication and looking to the outreaching future, there is a cycle, baseball for instance, it comes through a cycle, tennis goes through a cycle and so forth, and if we can look in that crystal ball and determine in the far outreaching and plan for it and at least have some reserves or at least the studies, the background to support what is required in the far reaching future.”

Mayor Cooper threw out the idea of user fees as something to think about to offset expenses.

“What is needed? Well I think again looking at finances to determine who pays. We do have our community paying taxes and we want to address that and it’s a challenge for those who don’t use facilities but are paying through their taxes. And others with suggestions that they may not live in our property tax community so I think that in determining how everything will be supported I guess user fees for instance. Certainly I have a list of challenges however I think looking at what is missing and what are the gaps I’ll leave it at that.”

What are the challenges for meeting future growth and expectations for parks, recreation and culture in Collingwood?

Mayor Cooper stated again that communication and reaching out to the community will be very important moving forward.

“Again, labour costs are a challenge, the outdoor rink, it’s nice to be able to skate and enjoy the outdoors, especially in the winter, however with the sunshine there is a challenge and a safety issue. It’s not dependable. And I guess, are we drawing from or competing with private business. We discussed a climbing wall for instance, and there are private successful businesses that provide that service.

Mayor Cooper said an eye has to be kept on the additional stress certain events put on staff.

“Special events are exciting and great to have in our community, a great economic benefit, however it draws staff from other tasks such as the playgrounds, the playing fields, baseball diamonds, gardens and trails.”

Deputy Mayor Brian Saunderson thinks sustainability is the town’s biggest challenge.

“Since we got the two new recreation facilities bringing the number of facilities basically up to four including the outdoor rink our operating deficit has doubled, so it went from a little under $500,000 to now being over one million dollars annually, and there’s really no way around that. We heard in the BMA report that cost will increase more than the cost of inflation. Figuring out how we can maintain and maximize the use of those facilities during their life span is important. They’re here, we need to use them to the best of their ability, and they host marvelous events. That’s our reality and we have to keep that going.”


While the outdoor rink at Central Park may have sunshine issues with winter ice, nothing was slowing down the game of ball hockey on a warm summer night



The PRC Framework survey is available online or at all PRC facilities until February 28, and the next public open house will be held in April. The public was also reminded that everyone who completes the survey will be entered for a chance to win a $500 gift certificate.
CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY




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