Community funding needed to make Breslau project work
Woolwich & Wellesley Township's Local Community Newspaper | Elmira, Ontario, Canada
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Community funding needed to make Breslau project work

First proposed a decade ago, a splash pad for Breslau was back on the radar this week, a topic at a meeting of Woolwich council. The project isn’t imminent, however, as even a design scaled back from original plans will require some $275,000.

As with the splash pad in Elmira, the entire cost will have to be covered by donations. The township may provide the land and operating costs, but fundraising is the key to getting it built.

Getting to that point will take some doing, but it would represent a first win for a community-driven effort to improve Breslau Memorial Park.

There was considerable optimism about the park’s future when six years ago township council reversed its decision to sell part of the parkland for $1.75 million to fund improvements to the recreational space there. A large number of people opposed the idea of selling the land, promising instead to raise money for what was needed there.

In the intervening time since council’s change of heart in January 2016, however, little has been done. There was some agreement among various community factions to form a general plan for upgrades to the park. The money needed for the work is still a long way off, however.

Thus far, changes have been limited to undertakings by the township itself, most notably in the removal of an unsafe play structure and the installation of playground equipment..

The cornerstone of new additions to the park is a proposed splash pad. In keeping with similar projects – largely in Elmira, a lingering sore spot in Breslau – the community itself is responsible for raising the money to pay for that feature.

Other improvements will also have to wait until both fundraising levels and township budgets allow.

This will mean both improved relations between Woolwich administrators and the community – always a bit precarious – and among various Breslau groups and residents. The former was a stumbling block earlier on, especially as village residents felt the sale of land to the Waterloo Catholic District School Board was a fait accompli, but the situation has improved.

Still, there are no shortcuts. Upgrades to the park are going to take time and money. Money is a particular sticking point, as the community has to raise much more, and the township will have to find room in future budgets.

There was considerable determination in 2016, but that appears to have lost momentum early on. What was true then is still true today, however: the pledge to come together and raise money for the park has to be followed through to completion.

The only way things get done is by the community leading the way. A big fundraising effort will be needed to upgrade what everyone acknowledges as a rundown park. The township, too, will have to act, setting its own financial plan for contributing to maintenance and upgrades at the site. Both parties will have to sit down cooperatively, trying to put aside past grievances.

The group of volunteers that evolved as a way to involve the public when the township was on track to sell the land, still needs to put the same energy into the project, to set priorities and lead fundraising efforts. It’s at that point that Breslau residents, having argued they have a history of coming together to raise money for community projects – rather than selling off parkland, residents can raise the needed money, they said – can put their money where their mouths are.

Council made it clear it will support the project, as it did with the splash pad in Elmira, but that the community is responsible for raising all the money needed to build it, just as was the case in Elmira.

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