Beehive Park property to be sold

MINTO – Town council has agreed to put Beehive Park up for sale.

The park, located on Wellington Road 109 between Harriston and Teviotdale, was the site of a one-room schoolhouse until the mid-1960s. It was operated as a roadside rest stop by the provincial Ministry of Transportation (MTO) for many years after the school closed.

In 2000, after the local portion of Highway 9 was downloaded from the province to the county, the newly-amalgamated Town of Minto purchased the property for $1 and continued to operate it as a roadside rest stop and picnic area.

A staff report presented to council on Dec. 3 estimates it costs the town about $2,500 annually to maintain the park, including expenses such as grass cutting, a portable washroom, staff time and supplies.

However, in recent years, Minto staff have expressed concern about misuse of the park.

“In the last eight years, staff has reported many incidents of excessive garbage being left at the site and there are concerns the area is not being used solely as a picnic site and rest area,” states the report from facilities manager Al Carr.

“Full bags of trash, strollers and furniture have been left at the site in 2019.”

Carr recommended closing the area to the public and investigating the sale of the property.

“This option would save the town maintenance costs and would encourage the travelling public to stop ‘downtown’ to support our local businesses,” notes Carr.

A second option presented in the report was installation of fencing and gates at the site, at a cost of around $8,000, to make it a seasonal stop, minimizing work needed in the winter.

“The Town of Minto would save money on annual maintenance, grass cutting and portable washroom costs if the property is sold. We would also gain the one-time revenue through the sale, to be put in recreation reserves,” the report states.

Councillor Judy Dirksen said she believes the park is well used and opposed the idea of selling it.

“I feel like we’re maybe caving to a few bad eggs and allowing them to spoil a really  beautiful rest spot in Minto for the countless good people that stop there,” she stated.

In addition to being used by people having picnics “who have obviously planned to stop there,” Dirksen noted, “There’s room for a truck there, so I think there’s a safety aspect … people are taking a rest so that’s good.”

She pointed out OPP officers often park at the location “so it also slows the traffic on 109.”

Dirksen added, “I realize there’s a cost to it and there’s been some vandalism-type activity there, but I mean if we use that as a basis then we wouldn’t be doing anything in Minto because there’s vandalism everywhere.”

Acting CAO Chris Harrow told council the Harriston arena grounds and pavilion area could provide an opportunity for trucks to stop and people to have a picnic.

Harrow pointed out there are also MTO-run rest stops at Greenbush and on Highway 23, just a few kilometres from Beehive Park.

“There’s lots of options if people want to stay in the country and have that country feel that are not a burden on our taxpayers to maintain,” he stated.

“We put a lot of money into our downtowns and Tannery Park and those areas and we really want people to stop in those areas and have their rest.”

Council declared the land surplus and directed staff to provide public notices of the proposed sale. The motion passed with just Dirksen opposed. Mayor George Bridge was absent.