Council puts off decision on declaring parkland surplus until next month, giving people another chance for input.
Breslau residents made another push Tuesday night to save their community’s park as Woolwich council looked to clear the way for the sale of four acres to the Catholic school board.
Councillors eventually opted to put off the declaration of the land as surplus – a technicality in the process – until next month. That will give the community at least two more meetings to push representatives to change their minds.
As it stands, the township appears ready to accept $1.75 million from the Waterloo Catholic District School Board in exchange for four acres of land adjacent to the community centre. The money would allow for upgrades to the park and community centre, as well as community access to new facilities, including a 5,000-square-foot library operated by the Region of Waterloo.
The plan also envisioned the construction of a new building that would provide washrooms, a concession stand and house the mechanical plant for a community-built splash pad.
The plan to sell parkland to the school board has been a divisive issue since it was first made public earlier this year. Opponents remain vocal, convinced the township is acting against the public’s interest.
For Breslau’s Julie Taylor, the park is an “oasis and peaceful retreat” that will be taken from residents if the school board deal goes ahead.
She contrasted current uses to the institutional setting that will be foisted on the people of Breslau should a school be built in the middle of the park. That would change the nature of a park that is used by everyone, from toddlers to seniors, she argued.
With huge growth expected, it doesn’t make sense to do away with “the jewel in the heart of our community,” Taylor added.
“We’re considering removing our central park even though we are going to have more people using it.
“Please think about protecting that land.”
Slicing up the park will lead to a loss of a sense of community, long-time resident Iva Mader told councillors, warning that “this can never be undone.”
The move would lead no room for expansion, including the possibility of an arena, as Breslau grows, she noted.
There is a sense, however, that council’s decision was a foregone conclusion, that the people wouldn’t be listened to.
“It was a done-deal right from the start.”
In pushing for council to reconsider, Elizabeth Siddorn cited the Victoria Glen example in which public outcry caused council in 2009 to back away from plans to sell parkland in Elmira.
“Parkland, no matter where it is, should never be for sale.”
Coun. Mark Bauman, who was on council at the time and voted against the Victoria Glen plan, argued the two situations aren’t comparable.
“I don’t equate the two,” he said, noting the Elmira example would have seen trees cut down to allow developers to build homes on the parkland.
Echoing Mader’s comments, she said Breslau residents feel council is going to plough ahead no matter what, so people have resigned themselves to the situation. Still, the sale is not in the best interest of the community.
Asked by Coun. Patrick Merlihan if the community would be willing to continue fundraising efforts if the township sells off the parkland, Siddorn suggested that may not be the case.
A decision on declaring the land surplus was put off until Jan. 12. Likewise, the township has pushed off until next month the selection of members for an advisory committee that is to help Woolwich decide where the $1.75 million will be spent in upgrading the remaining parkland and community centre.