Saint John's plan to reduce fields, playgrounds discussed
Public information session on recreation master plan set for Lilly Lake Pavilion
The city of Saint John takes its proposed recreation master plan to the public tonight.
It calls for a "right-sizing" of city facilities and suggests a multiplex arena would be a good idea.
The city will be looking for more volunteers and business sponsors in coming years as the plan calls for a massive scaling back of what the city is able to offer.
The emphasis will now likely be on making major improvements — such as installing artificial turf — to a much smaller number of sports fields, said Watson.
"We want to look at such things as quality versus quantity of our facilities."
The city has 30 baseball fields and many of those are grown over because of under use. Meanwhile, the city has roughly 70 playgrounds spread out across Saint John, while the national standard for a city of Saint John's size is to have 14 playgrounds.
The report also notes there will be a need for more neighbourhood volunteers to maintain playing fields.
That model is already in place at the Lorneville Community Centre, which is now maintained by George James and others after being grown over for 20 years. James thinks the same thing can happen with other city parks.
"I think if they get the right people, it can be done," said James. "It's a lot of volunteer work, but you don't count your hours."
Another recommendation in the report is for the city to consider establishing a multi-plex arena.
That idea is welcomed by Saint John Youth Minor Hockey president Scott Geikie — as long as it doesn't drive up ice rental costs.
"By the time you buy your skates and you buy your [equipment] . . . you're looking at thousands of dollars to play hockey," said Geikie. "The enrolment for hockey is declining — it's hard to believe in Canada — so we're trying to do our very best to keep these fees down."
Geikie said ice costs jumped dramatically in Moncton when that city opened its multiplex ice facility.
A public information session to give residents a chance to provide their input on the plan will be held Tuesday at Lilly Lake Pavilion at 7 p.m. It's one of the final steps before the plan is turned over to city council for approval.