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Monday, May 27, 2019

Concerns Raised Over Meaford Memorial Park Master Plan Process

Meaford | by Matt Hermiz  

Kinsmen president says process appears geared to revenue generation, instead of original purpose of park.

Meaford council will decide at today's meeting whether it will extend the community consultation process in the Memorial Park Master Plan.

Many have raised concerns in Meaford about some of the ideas for the future of the park, labelling them geared towards new revenue generation at the expense of the public nature of the green space.

One of those with concerns is Meaford Kinsmen Club president Dan White. He agrees putting together a long-term plan for Memorial Park is a positive, but worries the process is focused more towards creating revenue rather than the original intent of the park which was meant to enrich the lives of the people of Meaford.

White says the Memorial Park land was donated to the Town of Meaford by the Moore Family in 1951.

"It was meant to be a public park for the residents of Meaford for its lifetime," White explains. "In the years ensuing, the campground has been built up by a lot of work by the municipality and the Kinsmen. Now, the aim appears to be to try and get as much revenue out of the park as possible."

"They're leaning towards putting in things, potentially, like cabins and seasonal sites," continues White. "That takes away from the original purpose ... a public park."

White says the biggest concern is the process is moving ahead fairly quickly. He says there is certainly a need to plan for the park's future, but thinks a 25 year plan should not be rushed.

Meaford Mayor Barb Clumpus says a comprehensive Service Delivery Review conducted in 2017 recommended a five-year business plan be developed for Memorial Park.

In June 2018, council directed that a Campground Master Plan be completed to provide framework for the business plan.

She says public comments have been encouraged and sought by staff and the consultant on many occasions, and assures there will continue to be opportunities for public input as the process moves along.

As for the campground at Memorial Park, Clumpus says camping outdoors on a summer night is one of life's enriching experiences and she fully endorses this family activity.

"And hope that this opportunity continues to be available to everyone in our wonderful Memorial Park," Meaford's mayor says. "We do appreciate the many comments from the public, all of which will be considered in making decisions for the future of this park which is so important to our residents and is an attraction for visitors coming to the area."

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