Sudburians want more spending on natural outdoor spaces and unstructured leisure activities, members of the community services committee were told Monday.
The committee approved the Parks, Open Space and Leisure Master Plan, a new 10-year planning document that will guide the way leisure activities in Greater Sudbury are developed.
Monteith Brown Planning Consultants has spent most of the last year preparing the document, which updates the 2004 master plan. Through a number of research tools, including an online survey, Monteith Brown concluded the most popular leisure activity in the city is walking and hiking, which 90 per cent of respondents said they had done in the last 12 months.
Next on the list was outdoor swimming (60 per cent), cycling and mountain biking (53 per cent), ice sports (skating, hockey, etc.) and indoor swimming (49 per cent).
The most important amenities were nature trails, beaches, playgrounds, outdoor rinks and multi-use paved trails. More than half of respondents said the biggest reason was either because there were no facilities close by, or because they didn't have time.
The biggest demand was for more walking trails and bike paths, followed by bike lanes incorporated into main roads, swimming pools, splash pads and dog parks.
There was also support for building a therapeutic pool at the Lionel Lalonde Centre in Azilda. The document puts high priority on a feasibility study, as well as reviewing all existing indoor pools in the city, with an eye on determining how much capital investment each requires, how well used they are and whether any should be closed.
“If you're adding infrastructure, it just makes sense to take a look at what you have, as well,” said consultant Steve Langlois, who delivered the report for Monteith Brown.
In terms of concrete action, the highest priority is completing the city's arena renewal strategy, which includes a major renovation of the Chelmsford Arena, as well as planning to replace Sudbury Arena.
While supportive of the plan, Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume wondered why there was no mention of developing trails for ATVs.
“I don't see it at all in the report,” Berthiaume said. “A lot of people in my area would like to see trails for the ATVs.”
But Langlois said that's a complicated issue that would require significantly more study.
“It's a matter that you would want a little more public input on,” he said.
Updates to the master plan are part of a larger review of Greater Sudbury’s Official Plan, the main planning blueprint for all development decisions.
The master plan classifies action items as high, medium or low priority. Council will use the plan when making decisions, and it will also be included in the Leisure Services 2014-2017 Strategic Plan.
“The master plan review provides a thorough framework to deliver cost-effective, high quality leisure and recreational opportunities to our community over the next 10 years,” said Real Carre, Greater Sudbury Director of Leisure Services, in a news release. “With the approval of council, we will move forward on the high priority, immediate action items identified in the report to meet changing needs.”
Read the full report here: www.greatersudbury.ca/leisureservices.