This study was a joint effort between the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County to generate a non-biased, evidence-based analysis of facilities and services provided by the Community Services' Departments in our region. Edson Council adopted the plan on October 3rd, 2017 and directed administration to formulate an action plan based on the findings. The full report is available for public viewing here.
In 2017, the Town of Edson and Yellowhead County initiated a project to envision and plan for Community Services’ programs and facilities. This effort was undertaken to determine the most effective and cost-efficient way of providing services to their citizens, and was unique in its involvement of both municipalities.
Specifically, the municipalities requested:
- “the development of a Community Services Strategic Plan for the Edson Service Area. The Plan will be evidence-based, rooted in best practices and a comprehensive assessment of residents’ needs.
- The essential purpose of this project is to ascertain what these needs are, and to translate them into a set of practical investment priorities that will guide municipal decision-making in both the short- and long-terms.”
Four focus areas were identified for research and analysis:
- Parks and Recreation
- Arts and Culture
- Museums and Archives
- Library Services
Western Management Consultants (WMC) was retained to assist in this project.
B. Key Themes
Citizens of the two municipalities have strongly formed opinions about the future of community-facing services. Key themes heard from participants include the following:
- Good variety of existing opportunities:
Most participants recognized that there was a good variety of activities available to them in the Edson area, and appreciated those opportunities.
- Capacity has peaked:
It appears that the communities have reached a critical juncture regarding the ability of existing facilities to meet citizen needs. Somewhat ironically, the buildings are so well used that they are unavailable for unscheduled or drop-in activities.
- Winter presents the biggest challenge:
There is limited capacity for indoor winter recreation. The Edson community is an active one and during the summer months walking, hiking and other outdoor activities are accessible to most. But in winter, the existing facilities are busy with scheduled, programmed activities, leaving little room for individual walkers, the youth wanting space for a pick-up basketball game, or for families to enjoy a leisure space together.
- The community is at a key decision point:
The municipalities find themselves at a crossroads of opportunity – a time when existing facilities are at or are approaching end of life and will need replacing or refurbishing, when solid growth is expected in the region and population requirements will increase, and when renewed co-operation makes it possible to join resources and plans.
- And a Fundamental Choice:
The choice is whether to invest in maintenance of existing infrastructure, or use this opportunity to think broadly and reframe the offerings for future generations.
- Strong support for a new community complex:
Citizens are remarkably aligned in their comments, both in defining need and determining the next step. There is strong support for a new multi-purpose community centre and a recognition that there will be a need to develop and implement a reasonable funding strategy involving multiple partners.
Recommendations have been developed to deal with four areas:
- A multi-purpose community centre;
- Consolidation of existing facilities;
- Changes in programming; and
- Joint management of future facilities and programs.
The full recommendations of WMC can be found in in section 5.0.