Final draft Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan presented to North Huron Council


NORTH HURON – Monteith Brown Planning Consultants presented the final version of the highly anticipated Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan to the North Huron Council on December 6, outlining their findings and recommendations for moving forward.

The master plan is a key initiative in North Huron Council’s strategic plan to establish strategies to meet the needs of residents over 10 years.

On November 10, Todd Brown, president of Monteith Brown, made a presentation to test the preliminary findings and get board input.

Brown told advisers that a virtual public clearinghouse was hosted online after the advice was presented and that comments were received for two weeks until November 25.

Additional information and clarification was requested and received from township staff. Feedback from board, staff and the public has been considered and incorporated into the management plan.

The community consultation included an initial community survey of the public information center, stakeholder focus groups, a township staff workshop, interviews with council and staff, a council presentation and a public information center. final.

Brown said the master plan involved 484 households (representing more than 1,100 people), 27 community stakeholder organizations representing a wide range of participants, township staff and the council.

The top 10 priorities for additional public spending from the consultations were highlighted in the report.

Expansion of existing nature trails topped the list with 87% of participants supporting the idea, followed by farmers’ markets, arenas, playgrounds, multi-use trails, water games, acquisition of parks and open spaces, a fitness studio, equipment- fitness centers and community gardens.

A total of 50 survey submissions / responses were received from individuals and organizations under the “testing” phase of the blueprint, according to the report.

The public supported expanding trails, promoting unstructured activities, engaging and providing opportunities for youth, improving parks, improving existing assets, improving l ‘accessibility, etc.

Additionally, there is a desire to continue to maintain the Blyth Campground. It has been felt that it plays a crucial role in local economic and tourism development, and supports opportunities for outdoor recreation.

The respondents also wanted greater importance to be given to the promotion of the G2G Trail.

There was a desire to keep the existing libraries in their current locations.

Support and opposition have been received for key directions in Blyth, including potential daycare, reallocation of the surplus ball field, a new skateboard park and a new playground, and potentially a collaboration with the Blyth Lions Club to replace the outdoor paddling pool with a paddling pool.

Marketing and promotion of parks, recreation and cultural opportunities should be improved, such as an online and print guide to recreation.

Volunteer groups are greatly appreciated in North Huron and should continue to be supported. Suggestions were made to continue to maintain the arena concession areas.

The Howson Dam should be recognized. However, it is understood that council decided not to reinvest in the Howson Dam, given its age and the costs associated with the refurbishment.

Highlights of the recommendations:

– Prepare a park redevelopment plan for the Blyth & District Community Center to reallocate a surplus ball field, including a skateboard park, tennis court and two pickleball courts. Plus a multi-purpose basketball and ball hockey mat. Improvements to the remaining ball field should be undertaken (eg, replacing lighting) to meet user needs. If the excess ball field continues to be maintained, alternate locations for the indicated facility needs should be determined.

– Extend the pilot project to 25 improved campsites for a second year to better understand demand, costs and benefits before finalizing Blyth Campground.

– Reallocate underutilized concession space at the North Huron Wescast Community Complex and Blyth & District Community Center to alternatives such as program and office spaces, assembly areas or other users.

– When major repairs are required for the Wingham Library branch, or when the rented Blyth Library branch is no longer available, work with the County of Huron to assess the feasibility of moving library services to the complex North Wescast Community or the Blyth and Central District Community to reallocate underutilized space and strengthen these locations as community hubs.

– Engage the Blyth Lions Club to explore potential opportunities to convert the existing outdoor paddling pool to a paddling pool. Opportunities for joint funding through the Ontario Trillium Foundation or other grant programs are encouraged.

– Ensure playgrounds are located within half a mile of residential areas, unobstructed by physical barriers, and fill gaps in playgrounds in Hutton Heights and the east side of Blyth. Playgrounds should be renewed at the end of their life expectancy (eg 20 years) to ensure that they are safe for users. New and redeveloped playgrounds should incorporate barrier-free elements taking into account the elements of natural and adventure play.

– Continue to help community organizations plan, develop and organize special events (e.g. necessary. Additionally, monitoring attendance levels and understanding the economic impact of special events should be an ongoing exercise by the township to determine the success of special events.

– Expand the Recreation Guide to include information on community facilities, programs and services available in the Township of North Huron.

– Look for opportunities to fill park gaps in Hutton Heights and on the north and east sides of Blyth.

– In consultation with the public, the G2G Trail Advisory Committee, the Wingham Trail Committee and the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority are preparing a trail master plan to promote trail use and strengthen connections in North Huron.

Key initiatives include:

a) Extend both ends of the Wingham Community Trail to create a trail loop;

b) establish accessible traffic areas within the township parks;

c) Development of new paths in future residential areas;

d) Connect users to the city center (via the G2G trail and the Wingham community trail);

e) partner with the G2G Trail Advisory Committee to promote the use of the G2G Trail; and

f) Partnership with the Maitland Valley Conservation Area to encourage the use of the Wawanosh Conservation Authority

– Requests for new recreational and cultural facilities should be considered on a case-by-case basis taking into account trends, examples in other municipalities, local demand, the feasibility of using the existing public space, the need for additional human resources, the willingness of an established organization to partner to provide the facility or space, and other factors.

There is still a lot of work to be done; this preliminary report and its recommendations are not set in stone and are intended as guidelines for future considerations.

Township staff will present individual recommendations through annual work plans that will be reviewed and incorporated into capital and operating budgets and provide additional information, as needed, for the board to make informed strategic decisions.

Staff will also regularly monitor demographic projections, attendance, registration, trends, usage data, and more.

Warden Bernie Bailey thanked Brown for the updated presentation, saying, “It’s a very good report this time around. You have certainly listened to us, you have listened to the user groups, you have listened to the people who came after the first time you came here and you took action and you wrote on it, and we appreciate that.

Bailey added, “This is something that we can put as a solid foundation and move forward over the next ten years.”

Council voted unanimously to receive the master plan and adopt it as a guiding document for the creation of long-term capital plans and annual budgets.

Additionally, council directed that the parks master plan be included as an agenda item under the other business section of the December 20 regular council meeting as an additional opportunity for council to provide direction.

The full 206 page report can be viewed at in the December 6 agenda.