Design for new downtown Walkerton park underway

·3 min read

BROCKTON – The downtown park committee met last week to discuss moving forward with the design portion of the initiative.

The small but beautifully-situated property in Walkerton between Walker’s Landing and ReMax links Durham Street with the Catherine Street municipal parking lot. Last summer, when it was difficult to access the most basic of public facilities, the park became a haven for people looking for a rest area – a place to eat a takeout lunch on one of the picnic tables placed there, or use the portable washrooms. Come winter, it became the scene of the delightful and successful Christmas Country Market.

Now plans are in the works to turn it into a permanent park, with landscaping and various amenities.

The municipality came into possession of the property, formerly owned by the Wong family, in 2020. The purchase included a donation by the family with the proviso the space be developed as a public park.

With funding from Bruce Power and other sources, the municipality decided to retain the services of a landscape architect/consultant to work with a committee of the public, municipal staff and the BIA, on the design.

Last week, the parks committee met with consultant Sean Kelly of Stempski Kelly Associates to discuss the plan for the design.

Although the park isn’t large, its location creates the potential of using it for much more than a downtown greenspace. It could become a meeting, event and programming space as well as a garden with seating, utility connections and potentially permanent public washrooms. It can also become a space for historical recognition, local art, and possibly a water feature.

One of the first orders of business at last week’s meeting was to choose a chairperson for the committee. Jessie Bates, BIA chair, has agreed to fill that role.

Kelly said, “I’m really excited by this project and by the quality of the people on the committee.” He proposed a three-phase work plan that includes ample public consultation. His aim is to have a preferred concept chosen by July.

Said Kelly, “This is a space that would typically be filled by a building. It’s prime real estate. You’re lucky to have this site.” He went on to say, “Downtown has that magic.”

Among the things he’s looking at during the first “foundation” phase are the street frontage and parking, as well as such things as air vents on adjacent buildings, gas lines and underground utilities. “We want to make sure we have it right,” Kelly said.

The second phase will consist of coming up with a range of ideas for the space, involving two or three design concepts. Including public consultation, this will take between two and four weeks.

In phase three, Kelly and the committee will use the feedback to review and amend the concepts to come up with the preferred design. The timeline for this isn’t long – Kelly was speaking about July of this year.

The amenities will come with varying costs. Brockton CAO Sonya Watson said the budget is around $100,000, including funding from Bruce Power and “whatever fundraising initiatives we decide to do.”

One of the “must-haves” for the park is recognition for the Wong family’s contribution. Ideas are already being proposed for what form that recognition will take.

Brockton Mayor Chris Peabody said, “I want to make sure the Wong family is respectfully recognized… it’s very important to me.”

Also being discussed are possible names for the park.

Mark Coleman, Brockton’s director of community services, has agreed to be the “central point of contact” for committee members – their ideas can be emailed to him.

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times