Group launches lobby effort for Central Park plan 0
COLLINGWOOD — Central Park, you have a few friends.
A group of Collingwood residents — headed up by Paul Cadieux, who is also co-chair of the town's Parks, Recreation and Culture committee — have launched a lobbying effort to convince council to move ahead with the direction set by the Central Park Steering Committee before examining alternatives.
On the weekend, Cadieux sent out an email to stakeholder groups and other interested parties, as well as posting a group on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Friends-of-the-Collingwood-Central-Park-Project/187424814717298).
"(Council) needs to stay on track, and once the door is completely shut and every method of funding exhausted… and only when the public has had an opportunity to have input on the alternatives," he said. "But decisions are being made in isolation with no public input."
The proposal from the committee would include a double rink tied into the existing curling club and Collingwood YMCA, with community space. The price tag is estimated at $35 million — however, that's with a 20% contingency built in, and a recommendation the town explore a variety of funding options, including a public-private partnership and grant opportunities from the upper levels of government.
Several councillors have often repeated that $35 million is a substantial sum for the municipality to consider spending on a recreation facility — even though it has never been adequately determined whether the municipality would be responsible for the full cost.
In July, council approved a motion to explore covering Centennial Pool, and building a covered rink beside the existing outdoor rink at Central Park. Council also opted to chase federal infrastructure funding to rehabilitate the Eddie Bush Memorial Arena by making upgrades to its mechanical area, and install a concrete floor.
A report is expected to come back to council for its Aug. 27 meeting on the option to cover the pool and to create a new rink at Central Park.
Cadieux, who emphasized he launched the group — known as the Friends of Central Park — as an individual, not as co-chair of Parks, Recreation and Culture, said council appears poised to spend money on a poorly thought-out decision.
It's been estimated the cost of covering the pool, and a new rink, to be about $10 million.
"I don't see how (council) can allow this to happen without public input," said Cadieux.
Cadieux said council should follow through on the direction it set in April, when it approved — in principle — the recommendations of the steering committee. That included a recommendation to explore funding options.
However, in May when it came to hiring a firm to undertake a market sounding to see if there were potential partners, at a cost of $40,000, council balked.
"If they didn't want to spend the money, then they should have directed staff to investigate," said Cadieux.
Cadieux said the message he's trying to get out is the same that the PRC committee has tried to impart on council.
"Council looked to the committee to provide input, and council choose not to listen to the (PRC) committee or the steering committee," he said. "We need to do this once, and we need to do it properly, and fulfill the recommendations of the steering committee… and the one that's outstanding is a proper review of the funding options.
"I don't understand the need to move quickly on an alternative, and not provide the opportunity for public input."