A few years ago, when the City of Kamloops was thinking of closing the Westsyde pool rather than repairing it, the local community voiced strong support for keeping the facility open and even expanding the hours.
Now, the city is hoping to capture that passion and engagement again, as it draws up its first-ever Recreation Master Plan this fall.
Like previous planning documents prepared by the city, this one will provide the framework for, among other things, how to prioritize upgrades for Kamloops' recreation facilities as the population builds toward 120,000 citizens.
"Recreation is changing and the needs in the community are changing, based on demographics as well as growth," says Linda Stride, the recreation, health and wellness supervisor for the City of Kamloops. "It's unlikely we'll be able to continue to serve at the level we would like to, given our current state and the amount of infrastructure we have."
In the coming months, Stride says postcards will be mailed out, surveys will be made available both in hard copy and online and eventually, open houses will be held. The city will also engage in discussions with key stakeholders. The goal is to get input and data that will inform the city's recreation priorities for the short-term, mid-term and long-term.
"There are some things are very obvious to us, such as we know we're short on ice time. We have a waitlist of people who always want more ice and we don't have enough, so that to us is a known (factor). Will that come out in the engagement? We'll wait and see. We also think we're probably short a swimming pool, because we have a very small leisure pool. But does the community feel we're missing that? We have some hunches, but we want the community to tell us what they think they're missing because it needs to be driven by them," Stride tells KamloopsMatters.
The city already has a Parks Master Plan, last updated in 2013, but it doesn't make mention of the city's indoor facilities, like the Tournament Capital Centre. This will be the first document that will outline recommendations specifically surrounding infrastructure, programs and services related to sports and recreation.
Even the events that give the Tournament Capital its name will be under review if the public raises concerns.
"If local sports organizations say they want more of them, or if a citizen says, "We have too many tournaments, stop hosting so many and let us use the facilities,' then we would have to consider that," says Stride.
The city has already hired a consultant and is finishing its communication strategy, so the community engagement portion will be coming shortly. The hope is that the master plan will be completed and put in front of city council for approval by early 2019.