A future recreation site in the city’s west end will include at least one aquatic facility following a survey where swimming ranked as the top indoor recreational activity in St. Albert.
Planning for a future recreation site in West St. Albert will center around an aquatics facility, following a recent survey that ranked swimming as the number one indoor recreational activity in the city. town.
Open from February to mid-March, the survey gathered information about community recreation habits in St. Albert to help the city prioritize future recreation opportunities. The city will use the feedback to help plan a recreation center in the western area, now known as the Cherót neighborhood. The 59-acre parcel of land where the recreation site will be located is between Range Road 260 and Ray Gibbon Drive, slightly below Villeneuve Road.
Overall, the city collected more than 1,800 survey responses. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported participating in indoor swimming, and 60% reported participating in outdoor activity. However, outdoor running and walking rank among the most popular activities overall, with 79% participation.
Other top activities include cycling (53% participation), fitness and gymnastics (52%), camping (48%), playgrounds (43%) and recreational skating (37%). %).
Susannah Wood, recreation and parks analyst in St. Albert, said the city’s existing infrastructure is not able to meet the full demand of the community. Wood also pointed to the 2017 pool plebiscite, where 55.7% of votes supported the continued planning of additional pool areas for Servus Place.
About 40% of total program attendees at St. Albert’s indoor pools are nonresidents, Wood said, but later clarified that overall facility usage was “by far primarily St. Albert residents.” “.
“At the regional level, there is vocal support for the further development of this type of equipment,” Wood said.
Cost recovery for self-contained aquatic equipment is low, Wood added, with recovery typically between 30 and 50 percent per year. Fountain Park Pool’s cost recovery, for example, reached 47% in 2020.
“Indoor water sports require continued investment from a capital perspective in order for them to continue to be part of our recreational equipment inventory,” Wood said.
Mayor Cathy Heron said she appreciates how the survey gave a voice to community members who enjoy swimming in St. Albert.
“I love that it gives every member of the audience a voice instead of just having their voice heard through a giant association,” Heron said. “That’s what we’ve had in the past, it’s these very powerful advocacy groups.”
Classified amenity needs
The survey also noted barriers to participation, including availability of activities and cost/affordability.
Using community feedback in combination with philosophical and program evaluation, the administration updated the level of need rankings for 39 different types of equipment, 36 of which are currently provided by the city.
Indoor competition pools and indoor recreational pools are both classified as high-need, with 14 medium-to-high sized amenities, including but not limited to indoor arenas, community gymnasiums and parks on bicycles.
Outdoor rinks are lower ranked
Medium-needs amenities included 18 items, such as outdoor skating rinks, skating facilities, fitness studios, and cross-country ski trails. Five low-ranking amenities included outdoor fitness equipment, racquetball and squash courts, and beach volleyball courts.
Outdoor refrigerated indoor rinks are also classified as medium priority.
Heron asked if the current board motion to consider paying up to $1.5 million for a two-rink outdoor facility proposed by Active Communities Alberta has boosted the ranking of outdoor refrigerated indoor rinks.
“I’ve never heard of – except from Active Communities – a need for an indoor refrigerated rink in St. Albert,” Heron said.
The administration said it considered the request in the assessment.
Amenities plan to center swimming pool need
Now that the city administration has collected community feedback on recreation needs, Manda Wilde, acting manager of recreation facility development and partnerships, said next steps will include a cost-benefit analysis.
Wilde said the community amenities site is envisioned as a campus site, with the minimum level of development including an aquatics facility.
“This is the only amenity identified as having high need and the need and demand for aquatic activities will only increase as the city moves towards its goal of 100,000 residents,” Wilde said.
Minimum planning will also consider site servicing, parking, internal roads, trail access and site landscaping.
The city will also develop additional scenarios with other amenities and recreation opportunities, a process Wilde described as a “good, better, better” approach.
Wilde said the project team expects the scenarios to be completed by the end of this year and then presented to the board for review and discussion.
“It’s important to note that there’s a lot of work to be done,” Wilde said of the amenities site. “But we are really excited to continue to make progress this year and to move this important work forward. We will take a conscious, measured and progressive approach that will allow us to make good decisions for future generations.