Master plans approved for parks, cemetery

By on April 19, 2017
Both plans were developed by Lees and Associates from Vancouver to the tune of about $60, 000 — $50,000 for the parks plan and $10,000 for the cemetery plan.

 

The City of Merritt has adopted two new master plans aimed at both the living and the dead.

On Tuesday (April 11), city council unanimously adopted a parks, recreation and cultural master plan, and a cemetery master plan. Each comes with sets of recommendations.

Both plans were developed by Lees and Associates from Vancouver to the tune of about $60, 000 — $50,000 for the parks plan and $10,000 for the cemetery plan.

Erik Lees of Lees and Associates presented the completed plans to council at a committee of the whole meeting earlier this month.

The parks plan involved extensive public engagement, including open houses, surveys and site tours, Lees said.

“One of the key findings is that Merritt has more park land per capita than the B.C. average,” Lees told council.

The plan included a financial review, which found there is a need for closer scrutiny of departmental revenues and expenses to determine the true cost of providing services to the community. It also found that many of the city’s user fees and charges are less than comparators and there appears to be support for increases to user fees and taxes for increased services.

The parks, recreation and cultural master plan contains a variety of recommendations in the areas of parks, trails and facilities.

The plan contains 27 recommendations for parks representing a $2.6 million investment over 10 years, 10 recommendations for trails worth $260,000 over 10 years and 22 recommendations for public facility management worth $390,000 over the next decade.

One recommendation in the parks, recreation and cultural master plan is to create three new neighbourhood parks — two in Diamond Vale, and one north of Central Park in the Bench area.

The plan also calls for the municipality to create an online map of its existing parks, update the skatepark at Central Park and assess it for safety, and reassess the Central Park lacrosse box — if usage remains low — and examine alternative operating models.

Photo courtesy of Lees and Associates. (Click to enlarge)

Developing more trails in Central Park for better access to neighbouring Rotary Park, repairing the tennis courts in the Bench area, and connecting city trails with those in fringe areas of town and developing a new trail from River Ranch Road to Nicola Avenue are some of the other recommendations in the plan.

For city facilities, recommendations include consulting with community groups interested in a shared-use agreement at the lawn bowling facility, making improvements to the amenities at the Nicola Valley Memorial arena, extending hours of operation at the Nicola Valley Aquatic Centre, and pursuing a long-term lease of the former Coquihalla Middle School.

At an open house last May, the proposed plan for Voght Park included removing the current circular track, in favour of two regulation-size soccer pitches, which were identified as medium term goals.

Two new soccer pitches could be in the works for Voght Park. (City of Merritt)

The construction of a new oval-shaped track at Voght Park was identified as a long term priority, but early feedback suggested people would like the pitches and the new track constructed within the same time frame.

City of Merritt recreation and facilities director Brad Gilbert told the Herald that removing the track and phasing in a regulation-size track is still the plan.

The cemetery master plan also comes with a number of recommendations including the development off a green burial section. Other recommendations include expanding the veterans section,  additional casket lots and adding a cremation garden with columbaria niches, a scattering garden and an ossuary.

“One of [the] first questions we were charged with answering on your behalf is — “Is there enough land to serve the communities needs for the coming years?” said Lees, regarding cemeteries.

Key findings of the cemetery master plan state that Merritt has an aging demographic that’s expected to increase demand at the Pine Ridge Cemetery.

Photo courtesy of Lees and Associates. (Click to enlarge)

Lees said the city has ample land available for cemetery services, noting there is about 12 acres of unused land. Only four acres has been used, he said.

Likely the biggest suggestion is to remove some of the unsold graves to provide an appropriate setback from the cemetery roads.

The beautification strategy of the cemetery plan calls for more planting at the property’s edge and the reinforcement of the cemetery roadway corners. However, the plan doesn’t suggest paving the road that runs through the cemetery.

Both the cemetery and parks master plans are available to the public online at the City of Merritt’s website merritt.ca.

Photo courtesy of Lees and Associates. (Click to enlarge)

2 Comments

  1. tim

    April 19, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    reminds me why I moved out of merritt into the tnrd….more tax dollars wasted making merritt less affordable…..

  2. glen rutherford

    April 24, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Why are we using prime real estate for a graveyard? It seems obvious that this could be located in a place that won’t affect future development plans and use land not suitable for new housing and businesses. In case Merritt ever grows.

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