Brad Anderson, Manager of Genesis Place, presented to Airdrie City Council regarding current allocation practices across City of Airdrie recreation facilities.
“As Airdrie’s population approaches 80,000, the ability for recreation facilities to balance and fulfill the demands voiced across the three core service types is impossible. For any extra hour allocated to programming to accommodate growth of lessons, there is an inversely negative impact on the number of hours available for rental groups who already feel a facility deficit based on their membership size.”
According to Anderson, a tournament or special event booked within the primary season has the potential to displace thousands of planned visits from residents who have already voiced their frustration over the inability to access taxpayer-funded facilities during prime time.
“Adding to the space allocation challenge is the fact that there are no documented policies or guidelines on how decisions are to be made or how priorities are set.” says Anderson.
There are currently over 8300 Genesis Place passholders, which is nearly 11 per cent of the total Airdrie population. Additionally, over the last 30 days, there were nearly 60,000 drop-in visits to Genesis Place, which is nearly 77 per cent of the total population of Airdrie.
“Beyond the typical prime hours, the facility has been able to attract and grow the older adult segment during off-peak weekday hours who participate in pickleball, lane swimming, and aquatic dryland fitness classes.”
As Airdrie embarks on planning for a new facility, according to Anderson, there are a number of points to consider and engage further with residents on in regard to addressing the spontaneous and unstructured activity needs of our community.
“Future facility development may provide opportunity to accommodate various service types and multiple facilities while protecting spontaneous unstructured use.”
For example, public swimming could be offered on alternate weeknights during prime time, both at a new facility and Genesis Place, to ensure a young family could go any night of the week.
The community's desire for recreation programming scored high across some categories of the recent Community Recreation Needs Assessment.
“Specific programming that was identified as top needs in the survey included a fitness exercise instruction, swimming lessons, day camps, and introduction to sport programming.” continues Anderson.
Allocation strategies must span between both existing and future facilities, according to Anderson, to ensure that if certain service types are dominant during one time or season, then another facility can shoulder other service types to ensure all needs are being met.
“A space allocation framework is recommended to guide the fair distribution of space between the three core service types across all major amenities. This would ensure space is allocated in a consistent and transparent manner which aligns best with the evident needs in the community and the desires of City Council.”
According to Anderson, there were three options in front of the Council to choose from:
Council could choose to accept the recommendation of the Community Service Advisory Board (CSAB) to accept the information in this report and prepare a space allocation framework to guide the fair distribution of space between the three core service types across all major amenity types.
The Council could choose to accept this report for information only. The implication of this report is that the space allocation process would remain undocumented and not necessarily aligned to the broadest evidence needs of the community.
The final option is that council could choose to request further information from the administration prior to making a decision.
After many questions and comments from Councilors and Councilwomen, they decided to endorse the recommendation to accept the set of principles that will help staff, which was option number one.
To see what else was talked about at the City Council Meeting, see their agenda.
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