City wants to improve well-used park

Council will prepare an application for grant funding to improve Centennial Park, much to the mayor’s dismay

Council will prepare an application for grant funding to improve Centennial Park, much to the mayor’s dismay.

City staff recommended council take advantage of the federal government’s recent Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund aimed at improving existing community infrastructure. If successful, the grant would cover 50 per cent of the project’s costs, with the city matching the funding.

At the Jan. 24 council meeting, Lynn Wark, the city’s parks project supervisor, recommended council apply for grant funding to enhance Centennial Park and Frank James Park, which hosts the annual carving competition.

But Mayor Walter Jakeway did not want the city to undertake two projects now that are not scheduled until years down the road.

“I wonder why we do a financial plan in the springtime when we don’t follow it,” Jakeway said. “Why bother doing a financial plan and putting in all of that effort? Why let the federal government grant throw us off our plan. What’s the point in doing a financial plan if we’re not going to follow it.”

Coun. Ron Kerr agreed with Jakeway.

“I don’t believe in just supporting a project because the federal government comes along with a grant,” Kerr said. “I don’t think these were on our list of projects for the year. I think there are projects with way higher priority in our city, particularly in the northern end.”

However, the majority of council chose to proceed with the grant application, but switched out Frank James Park with the Big Rock Boat Ramp.

Coun. Larry Samson said he felt Centennial Park was a priority over Frank James, which would be a more costly project for the city if it were to be approved.

The Frank James project involves expanding parking, extension of the seawalk, an event staging area, and landscaping improvements and would cost the city $325,0000 for its share.

Centennial Park, on the other hand involves upgrading the practice tennis court into a multi-sport court and replacing the playground with a natural playscape with encourages free play, sensory discovery and a connection to nature. It comes with a $225,000 price tag to cover the city’s 50 per cent share.

Coun. Andy Adams said Centennial Park is important to the community and it doesn’t take the city off track.

“The park is in a low income area and is well-used by youth,” he said. “With this one, Centennial Park was in the five-year plan.”

Adams also made a motion to apply for grant funding for the Big Rock Boat Ramp upgrades, for a second intake of grant applications.

The city is currently in the process of revising the scope of work for the Big Rock project and putting a Request for Proposals back out.