The City of Penticton is going all out to get input to help build a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan.
The first public information session is on May 25, but the engagement plan kicks off today with a new website so community members can participate in the surveys online.
“My hope is a broad cross section of the community takes some interest and provides feedback and comment,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit. As the plan unfolds, there will also be updates and opportunities for input at the Saturday markets.
“This engagement process is, I feel, a lot more robust,” said Jakubeit. “It is on multiple platforms and we are also trying to go to the people instead of hoping that they are going to come to our public open house or council meeting.”
One of those platforms is the new website, Shape Your City, an online community hub for sharing information and collecting feedback from the community at shapeyourcitypenticton.ca.
When complete, the Parks and Recreation Master Plan is intended to guide planning and decision-making related to parks and recreation services for the next decade.
A key event in the engagement strategy is a community open house on May 25 from 4:30 to 8 p.m. at the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre, which includes two interactive workshops where participants will use ‘hands on’ approaches to express their priorities. The workshops will run from 5 to 6 p.m. and from 7 to 8 p.m.
The engagement strategy also includes 11 focus group workshops in coming weeks, as well as a telephone survey, tourist survey and pop-up presentation booths to gather more feedback.
“We think of parks or recreation in isolation of an activity or something that we do, but it is quite wide ranging, from walking your dog, to hanging out at the beach to playing pickleball,” said Jakubeit, adding that in order to build this plan, they need to answer questions like what are the trends, what are we moving toward, what are we short on?
“As it starts unfolding, we can start figuring out priorities on some of those outcomes or some of those recommendations,” said Jakubeit. “What is planned is more robust than we have used for other plan building exercises.”
The engagement strategy rolls out over the next four months, with a draft plan to be ready for more public feedback in early fall. A second draft will be returned for further feedback before the end of the year.
Jakubeit said the extensive engagement is in response to a desire on the part of city council to create better interaction with community members on major issues.
“I think we, as a city, really need to figure out a strategy to go to the people, not hope that they come to us,” said Jakubeit. “We are trying to figure out a strategy where we can ensure we have a comfort level that it is a very broad cross section from the community and their concerns, needs and desires are being captured and really help guide council into making decisions that the community is supportive of.”
Jakubeit said it is too early to tell if the strategy being used to gather input for the Parks and Rec. master plan could form a template for similar consultation in the future.
“I guess we have to measure it after we know of successes or lessons learned,” he said.