Questions about Pitt Meadows rec plan

Council wants to retain service levels.

Pitt Meadows councillors were critical of the work being done by consultants planning the city’s parks and recreation services.

Tuesday, council heard that Pitt Meadows shouldn’t compare itself to Maple Ridge in terms of recreation service levels, according a presenter with KDH Management Consultants – because the latter has four times the population.

That did not sit well with members of council.

“But don’t we have to, because that’s what we have now,” countered Coun. Bruce Bell.

“It doesn’t seem to be a very good measuring stick if we’re not comparing to what we have.”

In October 2015, Maple Ridge council served notice that it will be ending its leisure services agreement with Pitt Meadows in a year.

Pitt Meadows needs to develop its own service delivery model, and this week council heard a report about the first phase of that work.

Coun. Tracy Miyashita proposed a motion that council keep all recreation services currently being provided through the joint leisure services agreement, and it passed.

Council clarified that the motion does not “lock in” all services, and they would still be subject to a budget.

Coun. Janis Elkerton noted that, in 1993, Pitt Meadows spent $100,000 for parks and recreation, and now has a budget of $2.5 million to work with.

Coun. David Murray said the consultant’s work does not address partnerships or shared services with nearby cities.

“I’m a little disappointed in this report, to this point, because I don’t think it truly, really is reflecting what our community needs,” he said.

Murray noted that Vancouver has a OneCard program, which allows holders access to all pools, rinks and fitness centres across the city, and that Pitt Meadows should explore such an opportunity with Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam and Maple Ridge.

“I think we would be remiss not to look into other opportunities here.”

Murray, a CUPE member who works for the parks department for the city of Port Coquitlam, added that Maple Ridge’s proposed new recreation facilities could be built farther from Pitt Meadows than the current indoor pool.

“Most of the infrastructure is looking like it’s going father and farther and farther into eastern Maple Ridge,” he said, and that is too much travel for Pitt Meadows residents, and not acceptable.

He noted there are new pool facilities being built just over the Pitt River Bridge in Port Coquitlam.

Coun. Bill Dingwall said he would not be in favour of taking the entire agreement that Pitt Meadows had with Maple Ridge to another single community, calling that “foolhardy.”

He said Pitt Meadows should pursue a “hybrid model” of recreation, with core services delivered by the city, others through partnerships, and that some high-cost or little-used services should be eliminated.

Murray, who is council’s representative on the parks and rec commission, clarified he is “willing and happy to look at any cost-sharing agreements with Maple Ridge.”

He was among the councillors who opposed hiring a consultant to begin the work, and said he is getting “very concerned” at the pace of work.

“The planning has to start now, for programs to start in the fall, and we have no one with boots on the ground,” he said.

Kurt Houlden, with KDH Management Consultants, said it is early in the process and that Tuesday was the first step in talking about service delivery.

He suggested the city will need to employ at least a core of recreation staff.

Coun. Mike Stark said he would like to see proposed staffing levels early in the process.

“Put the FTEs to it,” he said.

Director of parks and facilities David Boag told council that Pitt Meadows will be well served by its parks system, which meets the traditional standard of having a neighbourhood park within a five-minute walk of most residential neighbourhoods.

Bell said the new parks and rec system can be changed and improved, and will not be perfect in November 2016.

“I don’t think we’re going to get it right the first year,” he said

• Council and the consultants will host a public information open house on recreation services on March 9, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at the family recreation centre.

 

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