Planning process established for new regional park

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A proposed new regional park in northeast Airdrie is on track to become a reality after the planning process was presented to council on April 4.

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The park land was purchased in December 2021 and the Council allocated $206,000 in the 2022 budget to begin the planning process, including the creation of a site master plan.

Ann Wood, lands administrator with the City of Airdrie, said the master plan is intended to be a conceptual layout to determine how best to lay out the various amenities to be included.

“It helps establish where amenities are placed, how they operate in terms of proximity, as well as determining development phases and budget estimates,” Wood said.

Wood said feedback gathered from the recreation needs assessment, which was presented to council earlier in March, would be used as a tool in the planning process.

“We will use this information as a foundational work item, which will avoid duplication of benefits. We want to align our work around the…park with the feedback Airdrie residents have already provided, she said.

“We will build on this information and follow the work of community services around the outdoor facilities of the South West Leisure Centre.

In a work plan presented by Wood, the first step was the completion of the recreation needs assessment. During the second and third quarters of 2022, work will include analysis and determination of potential amenities, as well as priorities for the site and development phases.

Wood said the decisions will weigh in on what is decided for the Southwest Recreation Center.

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“This analysis focuses on the interior and exterior layouts of the Southwest Recreation Center. Once the landscaping … has been determined by the council, we can really begin our work to understand what landscaping would be located within the Northeast Regional Park,” Wood said.

“We want to avoid unnecessary duplication of equipment. Collectively, we would like to meet the current needs of our community while planning for future needs,” she said.

Targeted community engagements with nearby residents and stakeholders are expected to be conducted in the third and fourth quarters of this year, but Wood said broader public engagement will not be conducted given the assessment of needs in Hobbies.

“We will not be re-engaging the general public at this stage. We use (the needs assessment) as a baseline data source for our community,” she said.

She anticipates that a master plan for the site could be presented as early as the fourth quarter, adding that team members are looking for opportunities to meet recreational needs in the meantime.

“During this same period, we will review the list of amenities against other parks and open spaces in the city. Maybe high-priority equipment can be delivered earlier to an existing fleet,” she said.

Council will be asked to change the land use of the park parcel in early 2023, and if all goes well passive development could begin as early as the second quarter of 2023.

“If that’s something you want to pursue, we’ll prepare concepts and costs to present as part of the 2023 capital budget process,” Wood said.

“At this point, we imagine a passive park will include a path through the trees, a picnic table and a parking area,” she said.

Councilors were enthusiastic about the development, unanimously accepting Wood’s report as information.

” I am excited to begin. I think it will be a fantastic addition to the City of Airdrie,” Councilor Ron Chapman said.

“It’s great to see and the momentum is very exciting for the City,” said Mayor Peter Brown.

Louisa R. Loomis