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Aging infrastructure a key theme in Cumberland’s rec, arts and culture plan

Questions linger around emphasis of the museum and heritage themes so far
Aging infrastructure is one of the themes that has emerged during consultations for Cumberland’s recreation, arts and culture master plan. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Updating community infrastructure is one of the priorities for Cumberland’s recreation, arts and culture master plan.

Project consultants Adam Fawkes and Gabi Haas updated council on a 10-year plan at a committee meeting on May 30, particularly about the engagement process earlier this year.

“We started this work in January,” Fawkes said.

He outlined the process of reviewing reports and programs, then visiting sites such as facilities and parks in February.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland’s rec, arts and culture plan taking input soon

The consultants then went over the process of engaging with the public and stakeholders. Haas said they met with many stakeholders, such as the school district, non-profit groups, sports groups, the regional district and others. They had in-person engagement sessions and had set up an online survey. The process also included K’ómoks First Nation (KFN). From this emerged, nine key themes at the start. These were then grouped into broader areas — for example, foundational questions, which included KFN, accessibility and inclusion, as well as later additions of climate change and fiscal responsibility.

Setting context was another, which include community growth and changes, events, and arts and culture.

“Arts and culture has a big impact on economic development for the community,” Haas added.

A third area was services, including service delivery and partnerships and collaboration, while infrastructure was the final area. The last one included outdoor spaces and the aging of local assets. Some on council pointed to the need for amenities like more public washrooms at local sites. Fawkes added that aging infrastructure in the community did come up, while parks and recreation manager Kevin McPhedran, also serving as deputy interim CAO, told council the village is planning a ‘deeper dive’ on this matter.

Coun. Vickey Brown pointed out the importance of the Masonic Hall and Weird Church in terms of events.

“They are regularly used for arts and culture events,” she said. “How do we capture these?”

There were questions about the role of the museum in the plan, as McPhedran outlined the current relationship of the village with the facility.

“The village formally only has a lease agreement with the museum,” he said, adding there is nothing set out in terms of events or ‘big picture’ issues.

The consultants had asked for feedback concerning any gaps in the report. One issue raised by community member Meaghan Cursons during question period was the report’s slant toward recreation over arts, culture and heritage. Some members of council concurred with the idea the report was focused more on recreation, though Mayor Leslie Baird pointed the village is still in the early stages of forming the plan.

“I think this is the first step in the process,” she said.

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