By Cole Parkinson
With the Municipal District of Taber’s continued hope to work more collaboratively with the Town of Taber council, they were brought plans revolving around recreation planning.
A delegation from the Town of Taber and Taber Recreation board was present at the M.D.’s regular meeting on May 22 to discuss the chance to work together on a regional recreation master plan.
“We had our Recreation Master Plan put together back in 2016 and we only did phase one and we need to complete the timeline and the cost. At the time when the rec board brought it up to Aline (Holmen, director of recreation for the Town of Taber), she had also mentioned to us that there is a regional master plan where the M.D.’s and the town are soon to be working together on certain master plans like this. Rather than just going ahead and finishing our master plan, we went to this RC strategy group and had them do a cost, trying to do some different scenarios for us, that’s where we got to this,” said Danielle Hansen, chairperson for the Taber Recreation Board.
As the two municipalities work towards developing an Inter-municipal Collaborative Framework, the Regional Recreation Master Plan was brought forward as well, as the Recreation Board believed it would be an added benefit to both.
“Recreation is certainly one of those ICF partners in that framework to collaborate with so it seems like a really good opportunity to work together,” added Hansen.
The M.D. has been working on ICF’s with all of their neighbours over the past few months but the Town of Taber ICF is one of the few that hasn’t been worked on extensively. In terms of the M.D.’s process in ICF’s, they have been busy working with other municipalities as well as getting grants.
“What we decided on our ICF’s, because we’ve got so many of them to do, eight or nine of them. We actually got a grant to work with some of the rural neighbouring ones,” said Reeve Brian Brewin.
While the ICF doesn’t need to be done until April 2020, the two municipalities want to get started sooner rather than later on both projects.
The hope is both the ICF and rec master plan can both be worked on during the same time.
“RC Strategies, primarily, have been involved with Alberta Recreation and Parks, there are other companies that do Recreation Master Plans but they are one of the top ones in the province. I actually went to their presentation that they held at the Alberta Recreation and Parks Association conference and the whole conference was about the collaboration, infrastructure and ICF we have to do. What other towns and municipalities are doing is, the regional master plans are coming out. Primarily in the northern part of the province, not so much the south yet but it’s still relevant because our timeline is end of 2019, 2020 to work together and come up with these plans,” said Holmen.
When approaching their rec plan, the Town of Taber had two different options on how they could move forward. The first was to update their 2016 master plan which revolves around completing plans related to the Town of Taber with a budget range of $15,000 to $20,000 and a completion date of two to three months. Option two would have the M.D. and Town of Taber working together to identify priorities and strategic plans which would line up with their ICF requirements with a budget of $60,000 to $90,000 and a completion date of six to 10 months.
“Just based on what we’ve been mandated by the province, I think this piece will be integral if we can make it work financially. I would be, personally, in favour of a regional rec plan,” said Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
Other councillors were also in favour of moving ahead with both the ICF and Regional Master Plan.
“We have to do this ICF so it’s a starting point of the bigger picture. We might as well get it done and find some grants somewhere to help differ costs,” said Deputy Reeve Merrill Harris.
Some were even surprised that a regional plan hadn’t been worked out in the past between the town and M.D.
“I’m surprised it hasn’t been done in the past voluntarily but going forward it’s definitely a bonus for everybody in the M.D,” said Coun. John Turcato.
With the plan covering the M.D. and Taber, councillors were happy it would also extend to their hamlets as well as the Town of Vauxhall and Village of Barnwell.
“I just like that it’s regional. It includes a lot of things and Vauxhall is just 20 minutes away or Hays or Enchant. There are a lot of great things that we have that we can enhance,” added Coun. Jen Crowson.
With council in favour of moving forward with the collaboration, they had questions of what comes next.
They were also hopeful of some government funding moving forward as the cost was a concern.
“From what I’ve heard around the table, I think the willingness is there so if you want to make that next step to see if there’s grants, work together on some joint grants. Funding is obviously going to be the big one. The province is asking us to do this so I would hope they would step up with some dollars,” said Brewin.
While the M.D. was the first stop for the master plan, they plan to visit all of the other municipalities.