Meaford council has approved the development of a master plan for Memorial Park.
The goal of the project will be to chart a course that would maximize the use of the park while also evaluating its current and future infrastructure needs.
“Planning for Memorial Park & Campground, the municipality’s only campground, was identified as a priority in 2015 due to the unique use. A destination of families, camp groups, and hundreds of day users make the success of Memorial Park a critical park in the municipality’s system,” advised staff in a report to council. “Improvements to the RV sites as well as the creation of cottage rentals, seasonal sites and additional non or semi services sites should be reviewed within a park master plan including improvements by way of changes to the orientation and the addition of hookups and grading and levelling of existing sites. In addition to the camping improvements the plan should consider improvements to stormwater management, potential group camping areas, and review the need for added previous parking areas and an overall forestry management plan.”
Council had debated the proposal previously, however the cost, which had initially been proposed by staff to be as much as $125,000, was a stumbling block for some councillors. At their June 25 meeting, however, council compromised with a target cost of $85,000 and a maximum expenditure of $100,000. Mayor Barb Clumpus noted that Memorial Park is the only true revenue-generating service provided by the municipality, and the revenues generated from the campground allow all residents of the municipality to use the park and its amenities, including its 468 metres of shoreline at no cost at the gate or on municipal property tax bills.
“I wanted to address a couple of points about the return on investment. One of the things we have to focus on is that what is the revenue generator at Memorial Park is the campground, and so that really is what contributes to everybody else using that park at no charge. So spending some money on an in-depth study of what could improve that particular revenue-generating capability, I think is a good return on our investment,” the mayor explained.
Seventeen acres of the 32-acre park have been developed as a campground, which currently includes 121 tent-trailer campsites equipped with 30 amp hydro service as well as municipal water. Eighty-eight of the campsites are equipped with sewer services while a waste station is provided for trailer holding tanks. The staff report to council notes that a number of the sites have been enlarged over the past five years in order to accommodate larger modern recreational vehicles, and those larger campsites have proven popular with campers.
To pay for the development of a master plan council approved the postponement of the addition of new cabin sites as well as a waterfront campsite expansion project, both of which had been planned for this year.
“Staff have postponed the above projects totalling $110,000 for 2018. The master plan and business strategy that will follow is intended to determine the most appropriate location for site expansions, cabins, etc. if the infrastructure can support additional sites,” staff advised council in their report.