Experts are calling for the Township of Wellesley to acquire new parkland to address a 6.6 hectare shortfall.
Steve Langlois of Monteith Brown Planning Consultants (MBPC) delivered the first draft of the community parks, recreation and culture strategic master plan during the May 27 Wellesley council meeting. The document, commissioned by council last year, serves “to guide the enhancement of leisure opportunities for current and future residents,” the report says.
“We like to call master plans a roadmap,” Langlois explained. “They are not an official plan, they don’t require formal amendment, but they are the voice of your community.”
Through public consultation and research, MBPC planners put forward 56 recommendations, including the need for more parkland.
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The township currently has 2.4 hectares of parkland for every 1,000 citizens, well below the suggested minimum of three hectares per 1,000.
“You are not quite achieving what we would like to see as an optimum level of parkland provision,” Langlois told council, adding that the Village of Wellesley could use two additional full-size soccer fields.
Wellesley’s director of facilities Brad Voisin called the plan “very detailed,” adding that “a lot of research was done, and I think when it’s finalized it will be an excellent guide for us over the next 10 years.”
Mayor Ross Kelterborn, however, said he was “a little bit surprised” that the plan doesn’t examine potential partnerships between the township, schools and churches.
“They have these large gymnasiums and classrooms that sit empty all summer and they sit empty many nights during the week, and I think it’s time that things started to happen between the [school] boards and the municipalities as to joint use of these things.”
Langlois responded by noting challenges related to priority of access and facility maintenance.
Ward 3 Coun. Jim Olender says the report will better position Wellesley for potential government funds.
“I still think the beauty of a plan like this is that things transpire with the government, money becomes available, that you do have a plan that, ‘arena dressing rooms are a priority,’ so you have that on the table ready to go in case the funding comes available – it can happen with trails, it can happen with anything.”
The draft will be presented at a public open house at a future date.