The Mayor for Ritchot says within the next few months he expects they will begin implementing some of the recommendations within their Recreation Master Plan.
In the spring of 2018, Ritchot tasked Scatliff + Miller + Murray and J. Harper & Associates with preparing a long range, comprehensive Recreation Master Plan. That Plan is now complete. Its purpose is to guide recreation delivery for the next two decades.
Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen says the Plan came at the request of their Recreation Director. It provides vision for council and the municipality for parks and recreation. Ewen says it also gets their volunteers up to speed, makes it easier for them to manage or control assets and creates a governing body that will make recommendations to council.
"It takes a lot of the stress off of just the council," says Ewen. "Now we can delegate it to the right people."
The Plan outlines a number of recommendations for the municipality, including:
• appointing a recreation advisory committee
• hiring an asset manager
• undertaking a review of the capital facility grant policy
• reviewing the current operating grant practices
• providing support to arena and facility operators
• providing support to the Grande Pointe Community Facility
• delaying development of a fitness and wellness facility
• delaying development of an indoor aquatic facility
• hiring and tasking the asset manager with developing a recreation facility lifecycle program
• reviewing its recreation reserve policies with a view to increase anual contribution
• developing and implementing enhanced parkland policies
• supporting Ste. Agathe's Cartier Park enhancements
• considering plans for strategic, low-cost ehancements to St. Adolphe Park
• recognizing the need and desire for additional park space in Ile des Chenes
• advancIing plans for a new park in St. Adolphe
• developing a municipal-wide multi-use trail network
• considering a boat launch at Ste. Agathe
• developing mechanisms to evaluate proposals for the development of new outdoor amenities
• forming an even closer working relationship with voluntary recreation program providers
In an effort to gauge public opinion, a questionnaire was made available to ratepayers. There were 296 responses from a population of 6,679 as per the 2016 Census. Approximately two-thirds of those who completed the questionnaire were women and the average age was more than 43 years old.
When asked what they value most about the quality of life in their community, the number one response was low crime, followed immediately by recreation programming or facilities. Two-thirds of respondents said they are currently leaving the municipality to take part in activities. The three most popular recreation facilities within Ritchot are the TransCanada Centre, Grande Pointe Park and D'Auteuil Park.
According to the questionnaire, 47.3 per cent of residents say they would be willing to pay more in taxes for new or improved parks, recreation facilities and programs, compared to 22.1 per cent who answered they would not be willing to pay more and 30.5 per cent who said they do not know.
And as for future recreation improvements, a swimming pool or water park was the most popular indoor recreation facility suggested, while walking and biking paths were the most popular outdoor attractions desired.
As mentioned, one of the recommendations is for the creation of a recreation committee. Ewen says this would likely be a group outside of council. This would allow council to stay neutral and then have the final vote on any recommendations.
The Rural Municipality of Ritchot held an Open House in January where the public was filled in on the recommendations from the Master Plan. Ewen says about 45 people attended.
"The people that were there they brougt value," he says. "They were able to discuss with us what they thought about the recommendations and the Strat Plan."
Ewen notes it was one of the better attended Open House events the municipality has put on.