ST. PAUL - Two in-person community engagement open houses were held on Nov. 23 in a bid to understand the recreational needs and wants of residents in St. Paul and Elk Point. The open houses are part of a feasibility study looking a into regional multipurpose leisure facility.
In St. Paul, Justin Rousseau, a managing director with Expedition Management Consulting, was on hand to chat with residents at the Rec. Centre throughout the evening. He said he had heard a variety of topics brought up.
"We've heard a lot about a field house, for soccer. We did heard some about dance... and a little bit of discussion about how this could impact rural facilities," said Rousseau. "Is there any appetite for for decommissioning of facilities that might older, there was some discussion around that."
Residents had the chance to write on post-it notes, answering the question: "What facility amenities should be considered?" Some of the responses written included a new swimming pool with various structures, a stage area that would allow for a large crowd, multipurpose field house that would allow for indoor soccer or pickleball, an indoor running track, meeting rooms, and "good dressing rooms."
Some notes spoke to current facilities and how residents did not want to see older facilities decommissioned. Others noted the curling rink and arenas that exist are sufficient and priority should be given to new amenities that do not currently exist.
Concerns around the cost of a potential project were also raised by some residents.
While in St. Paul, Rousseau said consultants are also making site visits to potential locations. On Wednesday they had visited sites in Elk Point, and on Thursday they were visiting sites in St. Paul.
"Part of the study is to look at where it might be located."
When asked about the next step of the feasibility study, Rousseau said the online survey will continue until Dec. 7. This week there will be digital sessions to encourage further discussion.
"We find that having a combination of in-person and digital is working well after COVID. Because some people still don't want to come out too much."
Then, consultants will take all the data gathered and come up with a draft plan that will be reviewed with municipal partners. The timeline is spring of 2023 for a final feasibility study.
Project partners with the feasibility study include the County of St. Paul, Town of St. Paul, Town of Elk Point, and the Summer Village of Horseshoe Bay.
Town of Elk Point Coun. Wanda Cochrane attended the Elk Point open house, held at the A. G. Ross Arena and said there appeared to be good attendance. “It was a good location for foot traffic and lots of input.”
Cochrane said the facilitator “was wanting thoughts on what was needed for the facility and what it could be utilized for, and lots of suggestions were forthcoming for its purpose, including an arena with walking track and field house."
She added, "Comments were that it could be utilized for adult activities since the gyms are difficult to use with all the school activities, and that these could include indoor soccer, volleyball, pickleball and fitness classes, and that it could maybe have a fitness area. This was some of what I caught, there could have been more suggestions as well."
Both a resident survey and a community group survey is available online until Dec. 7 and can be accessed through the Regional Multipurpose Leisure Centre Feasibility Study website. The community group survey is directed to people specifically involved with local organizations in the region.
An open offer to speak to the consultant team has also been put forward, and those interested can email Cassandra Gilmore at Cassandra@expeditionconsulting.ca by Dec. 7.
Included in the information about the feasibility study, the website states the project is important because "A regional multipurpose leisure centre has the potential to significantly enhance the recreational offering available in the region, promote regional collaboration, and support the project partner's goal of improving quality of life for their residents."