Master Plans are long-term, comprehensive plans (typically ten years) for providing municipal leisure services to the community. These plans may deal exclusively with sports and recreation or arts and culture, may address both areas of service, and may or may not include parks. Based on direct consultation with the public and secondary source research, master plans map – at a fairly high level – the actions that should be taken to anticipate and respond to community need for/interest in services that are within the mandate of the municipality to provide. Services include facilities, programs/activities, parks, and the organizational structure and operations needed to provide them. Master plan recommendations are typically accompanied by projected high-level capital and operating costs, direction on required policy supports, potential funding sources, a process for monitoring progress, and a schedule for implementation.
Recreation Services and Health, Wellness and Inclusion
All of our recreation plans consider the role that these services play in the health and wellness of communities and all their residents. Increasingly, however, the health, wellness and inclusion aspect of recreation services is the focus of the project. The implicit historic role that parks and recreation services have played in all areas of health – physical, mental and emotional – is now being given more concrete recognition. And the ‘right to play’ for all members of our communities is a key factor in developing equitable plans. In terms of service planning, blending recreation, health, wellness and inclusion is reflected in interdisciplinary work to produce integrated solutions.
The theme of integration is occurring in many service areas. On the land use planning front, we are looking to pre-WWII patterns of urban development to address some of the problems that have been created by the low-density sprawl extending from our cities and towns. And one of the themes that keeps emerging here is the integration of land uses to make daily life more physically active, and to imbed parks, trails, pathways, etc. within residential and employment areas – rather than isolate them in designated zones. This is the antithesis of the segregated approach to land use that dominated planning in the half century or so following WWII.
The ‘right to play’ movement looks to provide services that will allow all ages and abilities in our communities seamless access to the same recreation services that have traditionally been geared to relatively well-resourced and able-bodied people. This requires planning, designing and building facilities that are integrative/inclusive in their intent, and supporting these objectives with policies and programs that further facilitate access and use.
Mehak, Kelly & Associates provides planning services in areas where recreation crosses over into public health, wellness and accessibility – to assist clients in their efforts to eliminate what are often referred to as working ‘silos’, and so integrate service responses. These types of initiatives are often joint ventures involving a number of community agencies, including municipalities, public health authorities, district school boards, YMCAs, etc. An important part of these projects, therefore, is arriving at an effective working relationship among a number of partner agencies with different mandates to ensure successful implementation.