Idlewild redevelopment plan unveiled

City staff have released a preliminary draft plan for the redevelopment of Idlewild Park and are encouraging public feedback.

Chris New

Chris New

Cranbrook residents got the chance to take a first look at the plans for the redevelopment of Idlewild Park last week, as city staff presented a draft Master Plan for the area at an open house.

Upon first glance, there are many new amenities and features; there are more fire pits and playgrounds planned on the north and south side of the lake, new fishing piers will be at lake level rather than 10 feet above the water, and a wetland boardwalk and tower will overlook the area on the east side.

But despite the new enhancements to the park, city staff wanted to make sure they retained the natural feel of the area, according to Chris New, the Director of Leisure Services.

“It wasn’t hard in the sense that, that’s what the public told us anyways,” said New. “The bulk of the feedback supported that approach, so we weren’t getting the public telling us that the park is boring or that it needs a change. The community didn’t want it change.

“They wanted some new things, they wanted some new amenities, they wanted some change, but we kept true to the type of feedback we received.”

The city received over 1,000 responses to a survey issued in May 2015 that requested public input on how to redevelop the park. Following workshops with stakeholders and community groups and a public open house in June, the master draft plan was developed.

It is currently posted on the city’s website and residents can submit feedback up until Oct. 10, 2016. City staff will take the feedback and see if there are any outstanding issues or minor tweaks to address before moving on to a first phase rollout next year. A price tag for the whole project hasn’t been determined yet.

On the north side of the park, there will be a vamped up natural playground area and zip line, a covered group picnic pavilion and more barbecue pods, and a 10-station fitness/parkour area on the east side of the parking lot area.

The south end of the lake, where the toboggan hill is, will see amenities such as a fireman-themed playground, a barbecue pad with covered picnic table seating and horseshoe and bocce pits. A nine-hole disc-golf course will be located on the west side of the southern parking lot.

“We listened to people and those high values — natural setting, family oriented — these types of values, we really kept in the plan, but at the same time, we were able to add some new things as well,” New said. “I got a lot of positive feedback that we were cautious and concerned, but we took a really good kick at it.”

There are still a few outstanding issues, namely swimming in the lake, as there’s been feedback that people are both supportive and opposed to the idea.

“Is swimming compatible with some of the other types of uses in the park — the nature-viewing, the fishing, and just the size of the lake?” said New. “Is it compatible? Is it even doable because of things that we still have to do research on that will go well into next year, things like water quality issues and liability…so there’s lots more work to do on that.”

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