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Sackville gives green light to new five-year plan for recreation

Under the town’s new recreation master plan, Sackville will bring back its Street Chalk Art Festival as an annual event. The festival, which was first held in 2017, was on hiatus last year due to a lack of funding. Above, François Pelletier, who makes his living as a pavement artist in Ottawa, puts the finishing touches on one of his masterpieces ON Bridge Street during Sackville’s 2017 festival.
Under the town’s new recreation master plan, Sackville will bring back its Street Chalk Art Festival as an annual event. The festival, which was first held in 2017, was on hiatus last year due to a lack of funding. Above, François Pelletier, who makes his living as a pavement artist in Ottawa, puts the finishing touches on one of his masterpieces ON Bridge Street during Sackville’s 2017 festival. - Scott Doherty

Councillor’s motion to delay adoption to allow further public consultation was shot down

SACKVILLE, N.B. —

The town has approved a new roadmap for recreation in Sackville, despite concerns from at least two town councillors who believe there wasn’t sufficient public consultation throughout the process.

Coun. Shawn Mesheau attempted to delay adoption of the new recreation master plan during council’s monthly meeting last week, saying he thinks a detailed public presentation is in order to provide information about the plan and to offer residents an opportunity to ask questions and give feedback.

“It would be great if this was presented to the public to allow for questions. By having that opportunity to ask questions, I think that would be appropriate, especially since we’re talking about a plan that we’re going to use to guide us for the next five years,” said Mesheau.

The final draft of the plan was presented to council at its discussion meeting earlier this month but, as Mesheau pointed out, there was no chance for citizens to offer any input at that time.

He said he had heard from a number of residents who had felt left out of the process and insisted the postponement would allow for further opportunity for public engagement.

“Instead of us rushing into a decision here, maybe we could take some time and have a further chat about it . . . so we can get a better sense of is this the right direction?”

Coun. Bruce Phinney agreed with his colleague, saying he had heard from residents who weren’t even aware a new plan was under way.

“I don’t think we have anything to lose by delaying this,” he said. “Are there people that maybe didn’t see it and would have some good ideas to put into the plan? So what do we have to lose? Nothing, except to make it a better plan.”

Mesheau’s motion to delay adoption until July didn’t receive enough support, however, and the new plan was given the green light in a 6-2 vote.

The new plan sets out a list of priorities for recreation programs and facilities within the community, helping provide a clear direction for staff moving forward.

During the development of the plan, town staff sought public feedback in a variety of ways, including two focus groups sessions with local sports organizations, a public survey, a youth survey, a Mount Allison student survey, a public consultation meeting, as well as ‘summer pop-ups’ at the Sackville Farmers Market.

“There were 430 people engaged in the process,” said Matt Pryde, Sackville’s manager of recreation programs and special events.

He said it was also advertised widely throughout the community that there was opportunity for input.

Coun. Bill Evans said he was impressed with the rigorous consultation process over the past year and a half and said the time for providing input into the plan has long since passed.

“You can always say somebody wasn’t consulted. You can always go back and do it again. But at some point, the deciders need to decide,” he said.

Coun. Allison Butcher also acknowledged the extensive time and effort put into getting as much community feedback as possible.

“I’m impressed with how much input we did have,” she said. “I think it’s a really good rec master plan and I don’t think we need to do more public consultation.”

WHAT THE PLAN INCLUDES

Sackville’s new recreation plan sets out a number of strategic goals. Some of the highlights include:

  • Improving communication between local sport and recreation organizations.
  • Increasing the number of volunteers in Sackville.
  • Exploring a pilot project to subsidize ice rentals at the civic centre for children’s programming.
  • Enhancing the town’s recreation equipment loan program.
  • Enhancing regular physical activity programming opportunities for older adults.
  • Enhancing regular programming opportunities for individuals with mental and physical challenges.
  • Improving biking safety in Sackville.
  • Establishing a healthy eating policy for all town programs and events.
  • Improving trail and park connectivity in Sackville.
  • Exploring the option of establishing a Quarry Park.
  • Pursuing the development of an off-leash dog park near downtown.
  • Completing construction of the natural playground at Lillas Fawcett Park.
  • Establishing the Sackville Street Chalk Festival as an annual event.
  • Exploring a kayak and canoe rental operation at Lillas Fawcett Park.

Click here to read the recreation master plan.

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