The final draft of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan will be submitted to the North Huron Council

NORTH HURON – Monteith Brown Planning Consultants presented the North Huron Council on December 6th with the final draft of the long awaited Park, Recreation & Culture Master Plan and outlined their results and recommendations for further action.

The Master Plan is a key initiative in the North Huron Council’s Strategic Plan to develop strategies to meet residents’ needs over a 10-year period.

On November 10th, Todd Brown, President of Monteith Brown, gave a presentation to test the preliminary results and seek feedback from the council.

Brown told city councils that following the council’s presentation, a virtual public information center was hosted online and that feedback had been received for two weeks by Nov. 25.

Additional information and clarifications have been requested and received from community staff. Inputs from the council, staff and the public were taken into account and incorporated into the master plan.

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

Brown said the master plan included 484 households (representing over 1,100 people), 27 community interest groups representing a wide range of participants, and community and council staff.

The report highlighted the top ten priorities for additional public spending from the consultations.

The first place was the expansion of existing nature trails with 87 percent supporters of the idea, followed by farmers’ markets, arenas, playgrounds, multi-purpose paths, paddling pools, the acquisition of parks and open spaces, a fitness studio, equipment fitness centers and community gardens.

As part of the “test” phase of the master plan, a total of 50 submissions / survey responses were received from individuals and organizations, according to the report.

The public supported building hiking trails, encouraging unstructured activities, engaging and providing opportunities for youth, doing park improvements, improving existing facilities, making accessibility improvements, and more.

In addition, there is a desire to continue to maintain the Blyth Campground. It was found to play a vital role in local economic development and tourism, and to support outdoor recreational opportunities.

In addition, the respondents would like the promotion of the G2G trail to be given more prominence.

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

Support and opposition have been received for key directions in Blyth, including possible daycare, repurposing the excess ball diamond, new skateboard park and playground, and possibly working with the Blyth Lions Club to replace the outdoor paddling pool with a paddling pool.

Marketing and advertising for parks, recreational and cultural offers should be improved, for example through an online and a printed leisure guide.

Volunteer groups are highly valued in North Huron and should continue to receive support. Proposals were made to keep the arena’s concession areas.

The Howson Dam should be recognized. However, it should be understood that the council has decided not to invest in Howson Dam due to its age and the cost of renovation.

Highlights of the recommendations:

Prepare a parkland remediation plan for the Blyth and District Community Center to repurpose an excess ball diamond including a skateboard park, tennis, and two pickleball courts. In addition, a multi-purpose mat for basketball and ball hockey. Improvements should be made to the remaining spherical diamond (e.g., replace lighting) to meet user needs. Should the excess ball diamond continue to be cared for, alternative locations should be determined for the stated furnishing needs.

– Before completing the Blyth Campground, extend the pilot for 25 expanded campsites for a second year to better understand demand, costs and benefits.

– Conversion of unused concession space in the North Huron Wescast Community Complex and Blyth and District Community Center to alternatives such as program and office space, meeting areas or other users.

– If the Wingham Library Branch requires major capital repairs or if the rented Blyth Library Branch is no longer available, work with Huron County to assess the possibility of moving library services to the North Wescast Community Complex or Blyth and District Community Center to repurpose unused space and to strengthen these places as community hubs.

– Assign the Blyth Lions Club to investigate potential ways to convert the existing outdoor paddling pool into a paddling pool. Joint funding opportunities through the Ontario Trillium Foundation or other scholarship programs are encouraged.

– Ensure playgrounds are within half a mile of residential areas and not obstructed by physical barriers, and close off playgrounds in Hutton Heights and the east side of Blyth. Playgrounds should be renewed at the end of their life expectancy (e.g. 20 years) to ensure that they are safe for users. New and renovated playgrounds should contain barrier-free components, taking into account nature and adventure play components.

– Continue to support community organizations in the planning, development and implementation of special events (e.g. festivals, farmers’ markets, etc.) through the community’s special event guide, support infrastructure, advertising and awareness-raising, coordination with volunteers and other needs, as well as necessary. Additionally, the community should constantly work to monitor attendance and understand the economic impact of special events in order to determine the success of special events.

– Expand the Leisure Guide to include information about community facilities, programs, and services available throughout the North Huron community.

– Keep track of opportunities to close parking spaces on Hutton Heights and Blyth’s North and East Sides.

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

The main initiatives include:

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

b) Creation of accessible traffic areas within the municipal parks;

c) development of new paths within future residential areas;

d) connecting users to the city center (via the G2G Trail and Wingham Community Trail);

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

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

– Inquiries for new leisure and cultural facilities are to be examined in individual cases, taking into account trends, examples in other municipalities, local demand, feasibility of existing public spaces, need for additional human resources, willingness to examine an established organization as a partner in the provision of the facility or the Space and other factors.

Its a lot to do; this preliminary report and its recommendations are not set in stone and are intended as a guide for future consideration.

Township staff will provide annual work plans with individual recommendations to be considered and incorporated into capital and operating budgets, and additional information as appropriate to enable the council to make informed strategic decisions.

Staff also regularly track population projections, participation, registration, trends, usage data, etc. to position the community on evolving needs and priorities and to broaden the community’s funding practices through external resources such as working with community partners and finding grants.

Reeve Bernie Bailey thanked Brown for the updated presentation and said, “This time it’s a very good report. You definitely listened to us, you listened to the user groups, you listened to the people who were here after your first visit, and you acted and wrote on and we appreciate that. ”

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

The council voted unanimously to preserve the master plan and to adopt it as the guiding document for the preparation of long-term capital plans and annual budgets.

In addition, the council ordered that the Parks Master Plan be included as an item on the agenda of the other business section of the regular council meeting on December 20, as an additional opportunity for the council to give instructions.

The full 206-page report can be found in the December 6th Agenda package on

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