To be clear: I am in favour of a splash pad / skate park in Thamesford. However…
While I support the splash pad and skate park in Thamesford, I do not support it in the 2016 Capital Budget. I will be arguing that money be planned for it in the 2017 Capital Budget, pending the outcome of the “Recreation Master Planning process”.
I do not think these decisions should depend on having a “good Council” or “good Councillor” on the “right side” of an issue.
One of Council’s main responsibilities is to provide long term “good governance” to the Township and one of the key ways to do that is to give consistent guidance to staff to facilitate the right circumstances for such decisions in the long term. In this way residents can count on consistent criteria for ALL such discussions and decisions in the future, and not JUST the one they happen to be involved in at the moment.
Let’s not forget that while people in the Thamesford community in particular are asking for these facilities now, there are other parts of the Township that may want similar facilities in the future.
As such, I would like the splash pad / skate park decision to be made in the context of the new Strategic Plan (http://www.zorra.on.ca/Portals/8/Documents/Strategic%20Plan/Final%20Strategic%20Plan.pdf).
One of the key Action Items in the new Strategic Plan is Item V1.1 under “We are a vibrant community” which states “Undertake a Recreation Master Planning process…”. I think the splash pad / skate park needs to be a part of a bigger, more comprehensive recreation plan for Zorra which will then also address the needs of resident attraction and retention plan and business development. As such it needs to be done right, and in the context of the larger Strategic Plan.
From the research I have done, and seen at ZRAC (http://www.zorra.on.ca/Our-Township/Committees/ZRAC), the location of a splash pad / skate park is critical to its success or failure. Without some expert guidance on the size and location of the splash pad / skate park I think it would be irresponsible to proceed. Especially when such expertise and guidance is on it’s way…
The new Recreation Programming Coordinator will be starting on March 7 and she would be responsible for this Recreation Study. Staff have put a lot of time and effort into finding this person, and I feel strongly that we should use her expertise to guide this study and the implementation of a splash pad / skate park in particular.
If we are going to build a splash pad / skate park, and spend a lot of money doing it, we need to do it right. If that means waiting a year for the appropriate expertise, research, and studies, then I think that is the responsible thing to do.
So, while I support the splash pad and skate park in Thamesford, I do not support it in the 2016 Capital Budget. But I will be arguing that money be planned for it in the 2017 Capital Budget, pending the outcome of the “Recreation Master Planning process”.