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Aurora's parks, recreation master plan includes Stronach complex revamp
March 17, 2016
Teresa Latchford

The town can start to put its parks and recreation master plan into action after receiving a green light from councillors.

One top priority includes revamping the Stronach Aurora Recreation Complex to incorporate a gymnasium, multi-purpose program spaces and even a full-service fitness centre. A feasibility study would begin in 2018 with the expansion complete by the end of 2019.

In January, Monteith Brown Planning Consultants presented 45 recommendations in the draft of a document intended to guide town leaders when it comes to the future parks and recreation needs of the town.

With no request for revisions from community stakeholders, except when it came to the Mavrinac property, the document received approval, according to parks and recreation director Al Downey.

Recommendations listed in the master plan are ranked high, medium or low and, of the 45 recommendations listed in the report, 28 are ranked top priority.

 “Over half of those recommendations are high (priority) and that is a lot of activity for council to digest,” Mayor Geoff Dawe said. “They are all high, but they can’t all be the same high.”

Downey said projects will be staggered, adding town staff will report back to council at a later date with an implementation plan and a ranking of recommendations from one to 45.

Those items that don’t require funds from the budget can begin sooner than those that have budgetary implications.

Councillor Harold Kim is leery of the town getting further into the fitness business, a role, he believes, should be undertaken by the private sector.

However, Councillor Michael Thompson said recommendations aren’t set in stone and that projects are still subject to discussion to see how they fit into the town’s budget.

“At the end of the day, we still need to see the feasibility reports related to those specific items to ensure this is the right thing to do,” he added. 

Other high priorities include the addition of a six-lane, 25-metre pool at the existing Aurora Family Leisure Complex or another suitable location, consider Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings prime time pool hours to encourage more use of the pools, giving the Aurora Public Library the Magna and Lebovic rooms for their own programming, take on a potential use study for the former public library on Victoria Street and continue to focus on youth, as well as senior citizen programming.

As for outdoor recreation, the plan calls for the creation of a sports field complex with a minimum of three lit, full-size rectangular fields, potentially worth $750,000 each and one artificial turf field at Stewart Burnett Park, which could set the town back $1.5 million.

The construction of one ball diamond, two additional outdoor tennis courts, a water feature and accessible playgrounds in areas as needed also top the list.

The town also wants more parkland and to bolster its trail system, develop private-public partnerships to gain access to more publicly accessible land options and to implement a community garden program.