Thursday February 11, 2016
City council has approved a conceptual plan outlining minor enhancements to Baycrest Park.
The future of the 1.7-acre city-owned land, which is situated off of Baycrest Drive, has been a hot topic among its neighbors for over a year. There have been several hearings and outreach sessions with the Recreation and Leisure Arts Committee and the city council to collect input on what improvements could be made.
On January 19, Director of Recreation and Parks Maggie Leugers reviewed amendments made to a recommended conceptual plan that was initially presented to the city council on December 7.
The improvements still include the addition of three trees on the border next to the road as well as an access path from the crosswalk along a central undeveloped area. It also proposes benches along the path which will continue across a bridge to an adjacent neighborhood. A play area with swings, a natural play site, a bike rack, and signage near the entrance are still in the plan.
Changes made to the plan since December 7 include an extra bike rack at the back of the park by the bridge, removal of a proposed sandbox, and possible berming on the south side of the park if public works recommends it.
Since it is still conceptual, all necessary funding is not yet available, Leugers explained.
Resident John Dupee maintained a concern he’s shared in the past. He has pointed out that the path should not run directly behind homes, but should be positioned on the other side of the park.
“When I walk my dog at night, I stay away from here because I feel like I’m infringing on these people’s backyards,” he said. “If you need to have the crosswalk here, fine, but get the path out of people’s backyards.”
Leugers said that the placement of the path was more of a safety concern since it’s aligned with the crosswalk. Additional screening could be a solution if privacy is an issue for residents along the path.
Councilor Helen Riehle suggested adding a dog waste bag receptacle and a trash bin for those walking their dogs at the park.
Baycrest Park’s fate has gone through a long process, and the many hours of deliberation among stakeholders has not gone unnoticed.
“I’ve been impressed by the due process and due diligence that have been shown by the city council, the committees that have been involved, and staff,” resident Richard Kuyama said. “I’ve been to many of the meetings, I am a resident in the area, I walk past that park at least twice a day, and I’m thrilled to see this kind of public policy moving forward in a deliberate, careful, and respectful way.”
Chris Shaw moved to approve the recommendations presented by Leugers, Riehle seconded, and the vote was unanimously in favor.
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent