Kevin Turcotte is expecting a discussion about the skateboard park location at Monday’s council meeting, but it isn’t sounding like it will call for construction to be halted, as originally seemed the case.
The director of operations for the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake says typically, when projects such as the skate park are included in the capital budget, he wouldn’t expect council to have a discussion or make a decision on the location. The parks and recreation capital projects are usually about renovations, although in this case, the skateboard park had to be relocated as well, he said.
Coun. Clare Cameron told councillors at last week’s planning committee meeting she has concerns about the location of the new park under construction, and about the process for deciding the location. She suggested halting the work until two issues could be discussed, one that some residents didn’t know of the chosen location, and are worried about noise from the facility, and the other that there could be safety issues that haven’t been considered, with its proximity to a ball diamond and the picnic pavilion. She said she felt councillors should have had a full discussion and been part of the decision-making process for the project.
Her motion, finalized Tuesday, instead refers to discussions taking place after the completion of the park.
When the location for the new skate park was considered, “there were a couple of concerns from residents, and we listened to them,” Turcotte told The Local. The other possible locations were much closer to residents, he said.
When the Virgil Business Association was asked and agreed to giving up the corral for their annual Virgil Stampede, Turcotte said, that site was chosen as the one in the land-locked park that was the farthest from neighbouring backyards.
The skateboard park is about 75 per cent completed, with some concrete still to be poured, and could be finished or close to it by next week, he added.
If council wants the process for decision-making on capital projects to change, Turcotte said, that would need to be a direction of council.
Cameron’s motion to be discussed Monday says “contract initiation and vendor selection” were approved by council, but council was not given an opportunity to consider location or public feedback.
Residents have recently been expressing concern about the location and its impact on them, the motion says, and after completion of the park, it calls for staff to meet with residents for feedback and share a summary of comments with council. Cameron’s motion asks that the 2021 budget include landscaping and buffering features to the skateboard structure, and that future projects involving Town facilities where location is an issue be brought to council’s attention, either with a formal report or highlighted in budget submissions.