In mid-March, the Airdrie City Council will see the final master plan and implementation strategy of the Northeast Regional Park. On Monday, council heard an update on the public engagement portion of the master plan which occurred in the fall of 2023.
"We've gone through the engagement process which has been vigorous and enjoyable and very detailed and we're currently working through concept plans, listening to all that we've heard," said Ernie Webster of Arcadis Professional Services
According to city documents, in November 2023, the City and Arcadis began the public engagement process.
"Feedback was gathered through meetings with adjacent residents, a workshop with Council, surveys to interested sport/culture groups, Indigenous engagement including ceremony, a site tour and discussion, a public open house and an online engagement forum with a social map and survey."
According to the "What We Heard" document, 466 people provided feedback to inform the park design and overall master plan. Key highlights include agreement that the design of the park, which, 'balanced recreational activities, amenities and environmental sustainability while still incorporating cultural elements.'
"Residents made several design suggestions such as inclusive design for individuals with disabilities, increasing the landscaping to attract wildlife, and to accommodate year-round activities," the document stated.
However, through engagement, it was found that residents wanted multi-purpose sports and recreational spaces to accommodate diverse interests.
"Requests were received to consider including [a] cricket pitch, 18-course disc golf course (championship level), outdoor pool, Bocce ball, day-use areas (picnic tables, fire pits), and innovative play structures. A desire for a blend of passive and active recreational activities was heard."
There was also a proposal for a campground, which had mixed reactions from residents.
"Some participants liked the idea of an inner-city campground (good for events), however many participants expressed reservations about the campground idea, citing concerns about the environmental impacts of camping (pollution), as well as noise, safety and other regulatory concerns."
Residents also expressed concerns about whether there was enough space for a camping area.
"The importance of having on-site washrooms and change rooms was heard from residents as an essential need. The significance of amenities such as warming shacks (for winter sports and activities), concessions, and food trucks (year-round) was expressed."
Other highlights included positive engagement about the number of natural spaces, though residents said they were worried that people, as well as pets and overall development, could scare wildlife in the area.
"Concerns were [also] heard regarding safety and how it is being considered for this park. Interested parties emphasized the need for well-lit areas, security measures (patrols), and regular upkeep to ensure the park remains a safe, welcoming space for all Airdrie residents. Access for emergency vehicles needs to be shown."
Webster said that the thematic concept which was previously approved by council meant that the park would be composed of 45 per cent natural and wooded areas, while a third of the site would go towards organized sports and recreation.
"10 per cent of the allotment [would go] to supporting tourism and tournaments that might occur," Webster said.
He also underlined the importance of Indigenous engagement during the process in November.
"We had a really good session on November 10, with indigenous groups, the elders and knowledge keepers, [that] we met on site. We had a ceremony and it was an important moment in the evolution of the master plan."
Phase one of the park’s construction will begin in the third quarter of 2024. According to the City, the first phase will offer passive developments such as pathways, trails and picnic areas.
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