Local group, Advocates for Memorial Park, has received over 630 responses from Meaford residents and visitors to their recent survey on the future of Memorial Park.
Results of the survey are now being reviewed and will be presented to council by AMP at the September 23 council meeting.
AMP was formed following an April 15, 2019 public information session held by the municipality concerning the development of a 25-year Memorial Park Master Plan. At that meeting, consultants hired by the municipality presented several concepts for the park. They included suggestions for larger RV sites, the possibility of cabins and expanded parking. To facilitate those changes they raised the possibility of decreased green space as well as the elimination of some horseshoe pits, the upper campground pavilion and play area and some washrooms.
Members of AMP met over concerns that public input into the 25-year plan was inadequate and that Meaford residents had not been surveyed, as were campers during the summer of 2018.
“Our objective is to ensure the public has the opportunity to participate more fully in the future of Memorial Park,” said Dan White, Chair of AMP. “Land for the park was gifted to Meaford and its residents by the Moore family for use as a public park. We want to ensure the spirit of this generous donation is honoured.”
As a first step, AMP requested Municipal Council to extend the public input period from three weeks to until September. Council endorsed the request. AMP also used social media to raise awareness about the development of the Master Plan. On July 16, 2019, the group hosted a public meeting that drew an over-capacity crowd. Public comments indicated a strong recommendation to focus on improving maintenance and cleanliness of the park over any of the concepts.
“We are pleased with the level of participation from the community,” said White. “The public clearly wants to protect the environmental integrity and public inclusiveness of the park.”
White noted that most of the Memorial Park facilities that residents, visitors and campers currently enjoy, were created and/or funded by the Kinsmen.
While there has been some confusion about what is driving the development of the Master Plan, early analysis of findings indicates most respondents feel improved maintenance and a changed reservation policy will help to fill existing camp sites and therefore generate the greater revenues that the municipality seems to want.
Residents also question the necessity of a 25-year plan, given that all municipalities surveyed by AMP have 10 year park plans.