SEXSMITH, ALTA. – The Sexsmith Recreation, Parks and Culture Facility Community Engagement report has been completed, providing insight from residents in potential new amenities.

“We are happy with the feedback that we were given by both residents and the stakeholder group, and I believe it reflects what our community wants,” said Melody Sample, Sexsmith wellness co-ordinator.

The report came back with 27 recreation facility priorities for the town based on findings from the community engagement process.

Two surveys were included; 145 residents and 17 stakeholders responded.

Nearly half — 48 per cent — of respondents favoured an indoor aquatic facility, while 28 per cent wanted to see a fitness centre; 26 per cent a running/walking track.

Meanwhile, 44 per cent are in favour of new trails, 33 per cent sledding hills and 29 percent dog parks.

“We have been working for the last few years on connecting the walking trails that are in town, creating good walking loops,” said Sample.

She also noted that with the stormwater management project north of town, there are plans to potentially add natural walking paths and possibly a new sledding hill in that area.

According to the report, the a facility priority would be a multiuse indoor court and program space.

The vision of that facility has it hosting a spot big enough for activities like basketball, volleyball, badminton, floor hockey and indoor soccer. Other amenities the community would like as part of the facility would be multipurpose spaces and rooms for fitness and art classes.

The town has deployed a task force looking into a multiuse facility, said Sample.

What wasn’t expected, says Sexsmith mayor Kate Potter, was an indication by respondents they could accept a corresponding tax increase.

“We were surprised in some responses about a willingness to increase taxes to help pay for this facility,” said Potter.

The report found that 70 per cent of respondents were in support of some level of increase to property taxes to better meet recreational needs in the town.

“We’re looking at all of the feedback that came in and trying to determine what we can work on now and what we might wait for later and what we’re already doing,” she said.

“(Sexsmith) relies on third-party providers for recreation, parks and culture service provision to a significant extent,” says the report.

The report says that the reliance on third parties can cause some negative outcomes, such as reduced accessibility for the general public in some cases. However, Sexsmith providers appear to be doing a good job, says the report.

“It may be advantageous for the town to have more control over recreational assets that are supported by the municipality, particularly a fitness centre, indoor ice, and gymnasium facilities,” says the report.

Sample said the town is looking into more town-operated programs and possibly new buildings in the future.

Currently, Sexsmith Wellness is expanding its programs as the pandemic, with its related restrictions, made programing difficult the past couple of years, said Sample.

“We’re also working on enhancing or expanding our current programs for all ages,” she said.

Council accepted the report for information and will be sending it to the facilities task force for further review.

The facilities task force will then send recommendations for further actions for council to take.

“There were 27 priorities listed in that report, and I think 16 would be addressed by a multi-purpose facility potentially,” said Potter.

She explained it is critical to have a plan moving forward to ensure they can “get this right.”

The resident survey was done between Oct. 21 and Nov. 9 last year.