Recreation Master Plan update, Bicycle Friendly moves
One of the top items on Saugeen Shores’ short-term recreation short-term to-do list to help resolve the shortage of ice pads in Saugeen Shores will be debated by the Town’s Recreation & Active Transportation Advisory Committee (REACT) at its Dec. 6 meeting when it receives a condition report of the Southampton Coliseum.
That report will help the Town decide the timing for considering options to renovate, replace or build a new area in the Southampton area, according to Jayne Jagelewski, the Town’s Director of Community Services in an Nov. 27 update to the Saugeen Shores committee of the whole.
One year ago, after public input and work with a consultant, Saugeen Shores approved a Recreation Master Plan as a blueprint for development for the next decade. it included 52 actions items, and along with other ice pad related short-term goals to develop a new fair and transparent ice allocation policy - the draft is ready for debate with approval this spring - Jagelewski’s update included progress on expanding the number of drop-in skate programs during prime and non-prime time slots.
With Council’s recent decision to seek partners to help pay for a new pool/aquatics centre at the Port Elgin Plex, Coun. Neil Menage noted the Recreation Master Plan calls for Centennial Pool to be decommissioned and converted into a gym when the new facility opens.
“For me, its build a new pool and immediately repurpose the old pool I’ like to see [the projects] linked,” Menage said. He also noted that recommendation number 35 calls for expansion of the current eight volleyball courts at Port Elgin Main Beach, something he does not want to happen.
“If we want to make sure we don’t incite a riot, the eight courts that are there are the limit ” Menage said, asking for a review of the Master Plan goal to talk with the volleyball club abut expansion. He also suggested they “strike while the [development] iron is hot” and look into selling Town-owned land in the Bruce/Joseph Streets area of Port Elgin where there is an unused soccer field to help pay for the expensive projects on the horizon including a new police station, aquatics centre and the suggested $8.9 million renovation/twinning of the Southampton Town Hall/library.
Jagelewski suggested councillors with suggestions “pop” into her office with suggestions, an “interesting concept” according to Menage who said he didn’t think it was appropriate for him to“parade” into her office with priority changes, and asked for a process assess timing of the Master Plan projects.
Jagelewski said staff would take that process and there should be some reliance on the expertise the Town received by its consultant.
“What you see is a caption of the recommendations given to Community Services. What you don’t see is all the other ones happening outside of those recommendations, as well,” adding there is a strategic process to implement the recommendations.
Vice deputy Mayor Diane Huber noted that a REACT sub-groups are studying ice surfaces, ball diamonds and soccer grounds and will report in the coming months.
Making Saugeen Shores a better place for cycling will take engineering; education; encouragement; enforcement, evaluation and planning. Those next steps were detailed in a Bicycle Friendly Community summary report, a five-year plan now under review by Town staff who are working on recommendations to priorize and implement a work plan.
In the process to become a more bicycle-friendly community - there are 39 in Ontario - the Town worked with the Share the Road Cycling Coalition’s Justin Jones, said the Saugeen Shores application to become a Bicycle Friendly Community is “really good” and he hoped to be back in the New Year with good news that the application had been approved.
In his summary to the Saugeen Shores Nov. 11 committee of the whole, Jones said making people feel safe when they ride their bikes is key, and this area’s off-road trails and low-volume traffic roads are an asset.
“The Rail Trail network should be celebrated over and over and over. The foresight that was displayed in keeping the old railheads set aside is paying dividends times and time again,” Jones said, adding the extension of the Great Waterfront Trail through Saugeen Shores on the Lake Huron route is going to be a “game-changer” as this area has some of the best access from the trail and local amenities.
Jones said the Town’s oneday bike workshop in May promoted the Town’s first Glow Ride, a school challenge, and the Gran Fondo (Big Bike) fundraising event planned for August by the Saugeen Memorial Hospital Foundation will showcase local cycling.
Cycling champion - Coun. Don Matheson - called for more paved shoulders. He noted that as a child in Southampton he rode his bike all over, but now, worried about their safety, he will not allow his kids to ride their bicycles on some busy roads. He said it makes good sense to develop sports tourism in Saugeen Shores