January 19, 2018
Investment in rural community infrastructure is essential to the health and wellbeing of our residents. It plays a vital role in bringing us together and maintaining our strong communities.
Community recreation centers (parks, community complexes and multiuse facilities) act as community connectors and contribute largely to community development. They are a place used for a multitude of purposes: community celebrations, clubs to meet and volunteer activities to take place, to house public community meetings, to celebrate our local history, refuge in the event of community tragedy and place that ultimately provides residents with a better quality of life. For these reasons and others, the opportunity of any new community infrastructure poses a significant and positive impact on our surrounding region as a whole.
Within Tobique-Mactaquac, although we have many municipalities, each with their own identity, we also make up a regional area, which includes our neighbouring towns and villages, each having various types of social infrastructure – arenas, outdoor pools, tennis courts, dance studios, gymnastics facilities, tractor pull sites, parks, walking trails, curling facilities or indoor tracks to name a few. Not every municipality “has it all” nor do they need to. As a region, we have a great deal of activities to offer because of the recreational infrastructure we have in place and the plans to develop additional infrastructure to meet the needs of the population, interests of individuals, groups and the demographics of our area.
Through existing and proposed infrastructure in our region, we have the opportunity to benefit, through tourism and bringing events and people to our area, drawing folks from surrounding communities, border communities given our proximity to the US, and generating activity for our small businesses; our restaurants, hotels and shopping outlets. It’s important to work hard to ensure people of all ages in surrounding communities are aware of the multitude of programs offered at community centres. It’s important to ensure that new spaces are affordable and accessible to the greater public and meet the need of the population in and around those areas. Parks and recreation programs provide places for health and well-being that are accessible by persons of all ages and abilities, including those with a disability and seniors. Given that NB has the second highest rate of disability and we are the province with the oldest population along with Nova Scotia, this is should be taken under strong consideration in the design and building phases of projects when working to build healthier communities, and make communities across our region a better place to live. Ensuring we build visitable spaces in our communities to be beneficial for all.
Our government knows that the rural infrastructure investment is vitally important to communities as demonstrated through funding provided to many structures for upgrades and renovation over the past couple years.
When I think about growing up here in Carleton County, my memories of forming friendships and meeting others, building my social support network and getting involved in community initiatives or participating in a game or activity, are centred around the places those activities took place – community centres.
Recreation facilities, such as the AYR Motor Centre or the plans to build the Central Carleton Community Complex, impact a community in many beneficial ways and contribute to lifelong health and wellbeing of our residents, they help us to reduce stress, reduce crime rates with youth, and provide a place for families to spend leisure time together. These days, when I drive my kids to their sports and activities, they are experiencing the same thing, they are building their social network, making friendships and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. The difference that I see between myself and my children is that, over time, our communities have collaborated and begun to share resources. We’ve adjusted our mindset slightly and rather than participating in one activity at the same location each week, we use multiple facilities in our surrounding area. When it comes to recreation in rural areas, it’s important to note that facilities in a specific location are not just there to benefit the people of the community the facility is in, but people living in the greater community and outlying areas as well. I recognize the significance of this and it contributes to the idea that by using facilities in our neighbouring communities and supporting them in their efforts to build new infrastructure, such as the planned Western Valley Multiplex, we grow as a region, become a stronger, larger community and stimulate the economy.
There is a very evident hunger for new social infrastructure in various communities across our riding as demonstrated by the groups working to make that a reality. I commend the dedicated volunteers involved in driving those agendas for all their hard work. Rural community infrastructure, whether it be a park, community centre or multiuse facility, is a core part of the fabric of our community and any new social recreation infrastructure is good.
TJ Harvey, MP