Cavan Monaghan Township will need more parks

·2 min read

As Cavan Monaghan Township continues to transition from a small-population and largely rural municipality to a more urban setting, there will be expectations for more and better quality parkland and different types of park facilities, especially in Millbrook — and right now there is a “significant deficiency” in neighbourhood parkland.

That’s what township councillors heard Monday when consultant Robert Lockhart of The Rethink Group presented council with the first phase of a background report on the municipality’s Vision 2035 Parks and Recreation Plan.

The ability of a municipality to acquire sufficient quality parkland through development and redevelopment and to finance parks and recreation services is greatly diminished by changes to the Ontario Planning Act as a result of Premier Doug Ford’s recent Bill 23 legislation (which sets a maximum parkland dedication cap of 10 per cent for new subdivision sites less than five hectares in area and 15 per cent for larger sites), Lockhart said.

“These changes may impact smaller and rural communities the most,” he said.

“At the end of the day, there is diminishing leverage that municipalities have,” Mayor Matthew Graham said.

“There certainly seems to be more and more challenging circumstances for municipalities, regardless of the homework they do.”

One of the purposes of the parks and recreation plan is to determine the future of the 72-year-old former Millbrook Arena in downtown Millbrook following the 2019 opening of the Cavan Monaghan Community Centre on the outskirts of the village.

While the Millbrook Arena has had a new life as home of the Arena Lacrosse League’s Peterborough Timbermen, a township staff report says the property is in deteriorating physical condition and does not meet accessibility standards.

The cost to retain the building just the way it is for another 25 years is estimated at more than $5.25 million.

In a survey done by Lockhart, 82.5 per cent of household respondents would like to see the arena property repurposed into a park to complement the downtown and provide culture and recreation opportunities.

Lockhart said there are suggestions in his presentation that could help with the development of parkland, such as cultivating partnerships with other groups. Local school boards are an option, he said.

There may be federal and provincial grants, he added, and there is also potential to develop the remaining land at the Cavan Monaghan Community Centre.

There is considerable natural heritage open space throughout the township and potential trail corridors that can be added and created that could provide more trails, outdoor education, nature appreciation and picnic areas, Lockhart said.

Staff will report back on May 1 with recommendations for council’s consideration.

Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner, based in Peterborough. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative.

Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner