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Town of Fort Macleod developing master plan for parks, recreation

Fort Macleod residents will help shape long-term priorities for parks and recreation in the community.
The Town of Fort Macleod engaged McElhanney Consulting Service Ltd. to develop a parks and recreation master plan.
“The real challenge in a community like yours is there is competing needs and preferences,” Gary Debney of McElhaney said. “A master plan helps to priorize and focus planning that you get to the most urgent issues first.”
“Without a planning document they’re just reacting to public input and requests for grants.”
The result will be a five- to 10-year master plan that deals with parks, recreation, culture and tourism in the community.
The master plan will look at the condition of existing facilities and what is offered in terms of programs and services.
A survey that asks people about their level of satisfaction with programs and services will be mailed to Fort Macleod residents on Thursday, Nov. 10.
The survey can also be completed on-line until Tuesday, Nov. 28 at or
A town hall meeting is planned for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 at the Fort Macleod Library.
“That’s where we want people to come out and talk to us,” Debney said. “If there’s anything we’re not paying attention to they could highlight for us, and to have a conversation around how to take what is a very good system and enhance it and make it better.”
Debney said nothing in the plan has been pre-determined, and it is to be driven by public input.
The consultant will present a draft of the parks and recreation master plan in late January.
Debney said a parks and recreation master plan is similar to other Town of Fort Macleod documents such as the municipal development plan.
McElhanney staff has toured and assessed Fort Macleod’s parks, facilities and programs.
The background work has allowed the consultant to identify broad issues in Fort Macleod while getting a handle on what the town has to offer residents.
“I think Fort Macleod is a real special community in that you have a strong volunteer base that is very active, and that’s not normal in all communities,” Debney said.
“You’ve got a good inventory of facilities, your parks are unbelievable, and they’re all of very high quality for older facilities, so that’s all good news.”
That puts Fort Macleod in position to concentrate on how to fine-tune existing programs, make them more efficient and meet the needs of residents better, rather than dealing with major capital costs for repairs and upgrades.
“The report card is a good one, which is nice,” Debney said.
Debney said the background work has made clear the need for co-ordination between the parks and recreation, culture and tourism and economic development plans.
“It’s really important to Fort Macleod because of your cultural heritage, your downtown, your fort, your Empress,” Debney said. “All of those great assets need to come together into an action plan to improve the destination component of Fort Macleod.”
Debney said work being done on Fort Macleod’s cultural heritage component is important because of the town’s place in tourism in southern Alberta and the province.
“That leads to people coming to the community and spending money,” Debney said. “The economic impact is positive.”
The parks and recreation plan will examine facilities such as the BMX bike park and the outdoor rink.
Fort Macleod Volunteer Park and Westwinds Stadium will also be studied, Debney said.
There is an idea floating in town of focusing all outdoor activities, including baseball, slowpitch soccer and cross-country skiing in that one area of town.
“There’s a lot of land out there,” Debney said. “The idea that has been bantered around is making it a more accessible site.”
That includes a pathway system linking the rest of the town to Westwinds Stadium and improving playgrounds there to make it a hub of activity during outdoor sports seasons.
“The amount of park land that you have and the quality of it with wilderness park is really quite amazing,” Debney added. “A good trail system that just requires connectivity so you can move throughout the community without vehicles is a goal.”

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Lee Holfeld Says:

    There are serious flaws to the survey. It is poorly constructed. For example there is a question asking for a a response in terms of what we need, but the only available responses to choose from are things we already have. Unfortunately 2 of our towns largest arts groups were left off of the survey completely. The Fort Macleod Allied Arts and The South Country Fair, not to mention the smaller Fort Macleod Art Club.