The Regional District of Bulkley Nechako has been hosting a series of open houses for a study they’re working on around the creation of a parks and outdoor recreation department.
Right now, there is no specific department or organization that oversees recreation in rural areas in the district as a whole, so the responsibility is divided between the province, and non-profits who use those areas for their specialized activities.
RDBN wants to know if the users, and the terrain itself, would be better served by a specific department to manage this.
“There’s two parts to the study. The first part is just to evaluate the community desire for the Regional District to provide parks and recreation in the rural area… To identify what the demand for the service is, and what kind of recreation activity the community is most interested in,” said Jason Llewellyn, Director of Planning for RDBN.
“The second part is to look at what the most cost effective and feasible way is for the District to provide this service in the rural area,” he said.
According to Lewellyn, the idea of this new department has been in discussion for years, but the study has been going on only for the last four months. RDBN has already reached out to 42 different non-profits who work in outdoor recreation in the areas under consideration, and utilized an online public survey, as well.
Examples of organizations consulted with include various mountain biking associations, the Lakes Outdoor Recreation Society, and a number of cross-country ski clubs.
It’s too early for Llewellyn to say what the taxation structure might look like that would help fund the department. But that’s all part of the study, he said. Through the open houses (and the consultations already carried out), they hope to learn what people are willing to give to have the areas managed in this way, and whether it’s truly needed, he said.
The open houses that have happened so far have been in Cluculz Lake, Vanderhoof, and Fort St. James.
March 9, there was an open house in Fraser Lake and Burns Lake at Lakeside Multi-Plex.
The last two open houses were March 10 in Houston, at the Houston Community Hall; And Smithers at the Old Church.
Guests of the open houses were able to stop in anytime, said Llewellyn. He and other RDBN staff were there to listen to concerns as well as answer questions.
So far, around 75 people have turned out for the open houses that already happened. And a few key concerns were shared.
“Areas of interest vary across communities, but we have consistently heard the following…volunteer clubs would like assistance maintaining outdoor recreation amenities; There is the need for a coordinated approach to recreation provided in the rural area; And there is a need for certain outdoor amenities such as boat launches and active transportation infrastructure,” said Llewellyn.