Council sticks with planned location for fitness equipment

·3 min read

New outdoor fitness equipment will be installed at Indian Point Park despite objections from some neighbours.

Saint Andrews council decided at a meeting this week against revisiting its earlier decision to choose that location for the fitness area. This comes after resident Karl Deering presented a 25-signature petition against the proposed location, questioning the use of a wetland for the project and calling for an environmental impact assessment as the chosen site was a "decommissioned dump."

Deering also claimed his neighbourhood was not notified by the town about the proposed park, and that Hugh Akagi, chief of the Peskotomuhkati (Passamaquoddy) Nation, was "unaware" about the proposed fitness park and "opposed to any development of this property."

In an eight-page report presented to town council Tuesday, town staff laid out the timeline of events around the project and addressed Deering's concerns.

While the proposed location for the exercise park is close to a wetland area, it "would still not be in the identified wetland area," staff said in their report, noting there are opportunities to move the exercise park if need be.

"Staff does not anticipate any issues in achieving a (Watercourse and Wetland Alternation) Permit as we have been successful in acquiring permits in the past for the trail and in-ground infrastructure including stormwater management," the report stated.

On the concern about an environmental impact assessment, the report noted that on Jan. 17, Saint Andrews council discussed the project and learned that such an assessment would need to be conducted to get an Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) grant. On June 29, the Town of Saint Andrews was given the ACOA grant.

And on the question about consultation with Peskotomuhkati Nation, Saint Andrews Mayor Brad Henderson previously confirmed to the Telegraph-Journal that he had double-checked with Chief Hugh Akagi after Deering's presentation and there was "no objection" to the location. Henderson also mentioned that he had done his due diligence in getting the same answer earlier when the site was initially proposed for the fitness park.

The staff report stated that Henderson met with representatives of the Peskotomuhkati Nation and provided them "maps, visuals of the park, and equipment," noting that Chief Akagi and the Nation "have no particular objection to the park equipment on the site. This information was confirmed on Aug. 18, 2022."

During Tuesday's council meeting, Henderson said that if there are any further phases to the project like the construction of a bathroom or any other "permanent structure that can't be moved," the chief's office would like to be consulted.

Deering, who attended Tuesday's meeting, said he appreciated council giving consideration to the concerns presented. While he said he recognized that there isn't a requirement for the public to be consulted by council on every decision it takes, he noted that if council needs to share information with it residents, "they need to pick up the phone or send us a letter, something that is going to address whatever questions they have" because not everybody uses Facebook and the town website.

"We just agree to disagree and that's a democracy, that happens," Deering said of council's decision.

Rhythm Rathi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal