By Joseph Quigley

Dysart et al’s top goal is to have a shovel-ready plan for a new recreation complex by the end of the council term.

Council reviewed its “Six Big Ideas” report during its Dec. 16 meeting. The document outlines the municipality’s objectives for the next three years as identified in a May brainstorming session with staff and councillors.

First amongst the ideas is a recreation master plan, which would include a new recreation complex. Council agreed to have members start on preliminary work.

“I’d really like to see some formal action taken,” Coun. John Smith said. “If we still believe the recreation master plan amongst the councillors is number one, let’s get moving.”

The other ideas prioritized in the document, ranked in importance by the municipality, were housing, a parks management plan, enhancing lake and shoreline health, a Dysart master plan (for an overarching vision for the next five-plus years) and improving digitization.

The municipality announced a land donation Nov. 26 at County Road 21 and Soyer’s Lake Road. The 15.75-acre property can only be used for a new recreation centre under the agreement.

But Mayor Andrea Roberts expressed concern about starting work on a recreation management plan in 2020, given the work already happening on projects like the master plan for Head Lake Park. She suggested work begin 2021 instead.

“I’m concerned with piling too much,” Roberts said. “Takes a lot of time, effort, energy to go through those public consultations.”

Coun. Paul McKechnie said building a large-scale facility like a recreation centre, which could cost between $10 million to $20 million, would require funding from other levels of government. He added that could not be counted on.

“You’re better off buying lottery tickets,” he said.

But chief administrative officer Tamara Wilbee said community fundraising could start while the municipality waits for those grants. She added detailed plans are needed to even have a chance of upper government funding.

“The windows to apply now are so short, if you don’t have anything ready, right down to engineered plans, you may as well forget it,” Willbee said.

Deputy Mayor Patrick Kennedy proposed starting foundational work on the big ideas, with councillors indicating what they would like to start tackling.

Roberts said starting talks about the ideas are a positive step.

“We will get there with all of these.”

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