The District of Kent's parks are well used

Walking the trail to future green space development

Report finds District of Kent's parks and trails are well-used and enjoyed; looks ahead to next 25 years of development

While District of Kent residents are “well served” by existing parks and recreation amenities, there is always room for improvement, according to a recently completed report for the District.

Lees + Associates was hired to conduct an assessment of what the District has in terms of parks, amenities and trails and come up with a long-term plan for additions and improvements to the local assets. Their consultation process included two open houses, one in November, 2014 and one in March, 2015, as well as stakeholder interviews, a Council workshop, staff input and an online questionnaire. Based on their assessment, Less & Associates provided recommendations for the next 25 years, broken into five year increments.

Eric Lees said the project process included “excellent interactions with Council and the community.”

Looking at what exists now, Katy Amon of Lees + Associates commented, “Residents are well-served in terms of their access to parks.”

The District currently owns and operates 11 parks, and most residences are within a 10 minute walk of a park. Compared to other similar sized communities, the District is well served in amenities including baseball fields, outdoor basketball courts, equestrian facilities, soccer fields, skateparks, an outdoor pool and tennis courts, according to the report, adding that the quality of most amenities is “high.”

Over the next five years, the report recommends the District look to formalize camping permitting process at Alm Park, including installing a portable toilets, benches and picnic tables. They suggest developing a spray park in Agassiz and a site plan for Centennial Park.

Amon said through the consultation process, a lot of feedback was expressed around upgrades of Centennial Park. Some of the ideas for include working with Little League baseball on concession, more equipment storage, batting cages and more, working with skate park uses to establish improvement priorities, refurbishing the tennis courts and adding pickleball lines, updating the washrooms and adding benches, bike racks and additional planting beds.

Longer term, recommendations include updating Vimy Park, providing additional equipment to facilitate more multi-use courts, develop an access point for water sports at Rockwell Drive, acquire and develop a large park at Mount Woodside and Hopyard Hill, and work with a volunteer group to integrate a pump track (like a bike park) in a new park.

In regards to trails, Lees + Associates found that trails such as the Mountain View Trail is viewed as a success, as well as usage of pathways to neighbourhood parks and informal recreational use of the dykes. Through the consultation process, many spoke to trails as “top priorities.”

Lees + Associate’s recommendations for trails development include working with the Ministry of Transportation and the Village of Harrison Hot Springs to develop a trail between the two communities, seek opportunities to implement an alternate route option on Crown land, develop a circuit trail at Centennial Park and develop a lop trail at Hammersly pump station, amongst other suggestions. A longer-term trail recommendation is to seek out grant to develop a pedestrian and cyclist bridge from Pioneer Ave. to Fooks Road and develop a Fraser River trail loop.

The plan was designed to ensure that high quality, useable parkland is acquired, developed and maintained by the district, to ensure community access to parks and trails, to respond to changing public expectations and lifestyles, to guide the creation and ongoing development of parks and to set spending and investment priorities in tune with community needs. Lees & Associates’ vision is to provide access to a range of parks, outdoor recreation and trail opportunities to residents of all ages and abilities while striving to be a healthy and sustainable community.

Katy Amon and Eric Lees of Lees & Associates presented the final draft of the Park Acquisition, Improvement and Trails Development Program to the District of Kent Council in a special meeting June 22.