Borden-Carleton looking to enhance community programming

Colin MacLean
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BORDEN-CARLETON - As a young girl growing up in the Town of Borden-Carleton, Holly Bernard vividly remembers how many local recreation options there used to be.

The rink was packed, Monday to Sunday, the ball diamond was alive with people watching or playing and there always seemed to be hoards of kids out and about in the summer youth programs, recalled Bernard.

But that was then.

Borden-Carleton today is a different community than the one of Bernard's childhood. Things are quieter, with fewer local options for residents looking to stay active.

But a new initiative, one spearheaded by Holland College students, is aiming to inject some life into the community's recreational offerings.

"This is where I grew up and this is where I want to stay. But if it's going to grow, we need to build it up again," said Bernard, who recently took over the position of recreation director for the town.

A class of students from the college's Sport and Leisure Management program is compiling a review of the town's recreation programs and a report on how to improve them.

Borden-Carleton as a town has gotten a lot older, there are few young families left in the area, said Bernard, and many of those put their children in activities based in neighbouring communities.

That demographic shift has left the community with a lot of infrastructure for its size.

The total population as of 2006 was just under 800, but the community still has all the infrastructure it did when its population was closer to 1,200 in the pre-Confederation Bridge days, such as a rink, a softball field, tennis courts, a library and public parks.

"We have great assets; they're just not used to their potential," said Bernard.

The Sport and Leisure Management classes' instructor, Cory Thomas, who is originally from Borden-Carleton, said this kind of study is a first in his program.

The students, who are studying community development, have teamed up with the college's applied research department to conduct their work.

It's a great opportunity for the students to gain new skills while offering a valuable service, said Thomas.

"It's one thing to do this in the classroom, but we wanted to help a community as well," he said.

Borden-Carleton Mayor Dean Sexton added that council has been unanimous in its support of this project and the hard work of the students is appreciated.

"This was a great deal for us ... it was wonderful to have this done," said Sexton.

As part of their study, the students held a public meeting day earlier this month where residents were invited to offer their opinions, and a questionnaire was also distributed.

The class is now in the process of analyzing their results and Thomas said they hope to have something to bring to Borden-Carleton town council by late May or early June.

Organizations: Holland College, Leisure Management, Borden-Carleton town council

Geographic location: Borden-Carleton, Charlottetown

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