The Town of Bashaw council began a discussion about recreation at their Nov. 15 regular meeting but soon decided efforts to develop a master plan could include many other facets of the community.
Town Chief Administrative Officer Theresa Fuller stated the topic of “recreation master plan” was requested by councillors to be placed on the agenda for discussion.
The topic of a wide-ranging approach to all recreation in the community was lit when, a few weeks ago, councillors discussed providing financial assistance to the Bashaw Curling Club; the discussion evolved into a discussion on the challenges facing recreation organizations.
Coun. Kyle McIntosh stated that he felt a recreation master plan could be developed alongside a tourism master plan, as the two slices of the community could be seen as linked.
McIntosh used as an example the Bashaw Ag Society grounds, which are used for recreation and sports events such as rodeo, but also for tourism and culture events such as the medieval fair.
McIntosh pointed out some other Alberta communities have already taken this wide-ranging approach and Bashaw could examine the fruits of their labours.
The Town of Raymond’s website does indeed offer a document called “Integrated Community Sustainability Plan” for perusal. The plan has defined sections for culture, economy, environment, governance and social elements.
The document describes a sustainability plan as, “…a guiding framework designed to lead us to a future with a strong economy, a participatory governance model, ecological integrity, a vibrant cultural scene, and strong social cohesion.”
McIntosh also suggested holding a community stakeholder meeting one afternoon to discuss a recreation master plan idea and gather input directly from town residents.
McIntosh also noted that he didn’t think this would require the hiring of a consultant as town staff and councillors could handle this on their own.
Coun. Jackie Northey liked the idea and went further with it, suggesting the stakeholder meeting could be akin to a summit to discuss recreation, tourism and culture all at once.
Northey stated she felt Bashaw has many hidden gems in those areas, including tourism and recreation spots such as Sitting Stone Lake.
Northey stated she felt that the next step would be to develop a list of stakeholders and ask them if they’d be interested in this “summit meeting” approach.
Councillors unanimously passed a resolution that the Town of Bashaw will develop a list of stakeholders and contact them to gauge their interest in participating in a recreation, tourism and culture master plan summit meeting.
Support services budget
Earlier in the meeting councillors heard a presentation from Bashaw & District Support Services (BDSS) which included the organization’s draft 2024 budget presented by Christine Buelow, executive director for BDSS.
BDSS requested $78,365 in Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) funding.
BDSS’ presentation listed a wide variety of programming offered in Bashaw, including the community wellness program, Roots of Empathy, Meals on Wheels, Tools for School, youth social programming and much more.
It was noted at the meeting that collectively BDSS received less funding last year than it requested and costs such as staffing are rising.
As well, it’s unknown at this time how much money the provincial government will make available for FCSS programming.
Readers should note that FCSS programming is paid on an 80 per cent Government of Alberta, 20 per cent municipality ratio.
Fuller stated the Town of Bashaw pays about $6,600 for FCSS programming per year. She added FCSS is population based and an existing agreement with the province is in place.
During discussion the topic of Bashaw school population came up, and it was noted several times that school population is 57.7 per cent rural.
Coun. Northey stated the need and demand for BDSS-like programming is growing.
“It’s getting brutal out there,” said Northey, who added the local food bank is under a lot of pressure.
It was also noted Bashaw representatives have heard similar feedback from their counterparts in the Village of Alix and Town of Stettler.
Councillors unanimously accepted the BDSS draft budget as information.
By Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Original Published on Nov 30, 2023 at 15:33