Council plays ball with Puslinch Minor Softball, promises up to $20,000 in improvements

ABERFOYLE – Puslinch Minor Softball is growing and while that’s a happy circumstance, growth had members of its executive seeking some approvals and concessions from council on March 20.

Director of operations Cameron Tuck and director of marketing and social medial Kiran Johal thanked council for improvements the township has made to local ball diamonds in recent years.

But some of those improvements have caused problems for the volunteer association.

“The improvements have been tremendous,” Tuck said. “We’ve grown from 40 to 140 kids now and a lot has to do with facility upgrades. But there are some things that have to be done before the season begins (May 12).”

Puslinch Minor softball uses diamonds at the Puslinch Community Centre, Morriston, and Morriston Meadows.

Morriston Meadows

The township installed new septic tank lids at Morriston Meadows, but they are located right in the middle of the current bullpen, causing safety concerns as errant balls could bounce off a lid and go in any direction, including near the public washrooms.

The association proposed building two new bullpens – one on the left field foul line and one on the right – with backstop fences measuring  about 8 by 10 feet in size.

Tuck said he thinks existing lights for the field would be enough to light bullpens in the new locations.

The cost would be $400 to $500 for two 8-by-10 foot backstops, Tuck estimated.

Director of public works, parks and facilities Mike Fowler said it would cost $700 to $800 for a utility locate. On top of that could be the cost of gravel between the backstop and the pitcher’s mound.

Councillor Jessica Goyda proposed that council approve the cost of the two bullpens at an upset limit of $10,000. The relocated bullpen would come from the parkland dedication fund and the new bullpen from the development charges reserve fund. Council approved the motion.

Mayor James Seeley suggested the ball association reach out to aggregate operations in the township to see if they would donate the gravel.

“It’s an opportunity for engagement and would give the aggregate industry some good press,” Seeley said.

Puslinch Minor Softball will weed the gravel area if necessary as the township doesn’t have the manpower to do that kind of work.

The small diamond at Morriston Meadows also needs protective fencing in front of the players’ benches – Tuck estimated about 20 feet at both benches.

Without the fencing, the diamond can only be used for practices and not games. With the growing membership Tuck said it’s becoming important to get this diamond up to standards, so it can be used for games as well.

There is also vegetation growing along a fence and Tuck sought permission for volunteers to remove the vegetation and relocate the bleachers from the damp, dark corner where they are now.

Council agreed to the fencing at an upset cost of $10,000 to be funding from development charges.

Morriston Ball Park

Johal told council the ball association wants to operate the concession stand at the Morriston park and has been working with public health on ensuring the place is sanitary and up to code.

She asked if the township could provide a floor plan for the building as required by public health, but the township doesn’t have such a plan as the building was donated to the township decades ago.

Tuck said the ball association has been using the building as a storage shed but will install lockers so their equipment can be stored securely.

Johal said the association  intends to sell hot and cold drinks and pre-packaged food, so no cooking will take place at the concession stand.

Interim CAO Courtenay Hoytfox noted there currently is no rental fee structure for the concession stand and who else might want to use the space.

“I want to report back on this facility,” she said. “We need a better understanding.”

“I would like the booth to come with the diamond rental,” Seeley added.

Council agreed staff should do some investigation and work with the ball association to clarify some of the points, and report back to council for a decision before the season opens.

Puslinch Community Centre

Puslinch Minor Softball also wants to put up a temporary sign on the boulevard outside the Puslinch Community Centre to advertise its events. At this time, it’s information about registration.

“It would increase our reach and could be moved and removed,” Tuck said.

Hoyfox noted the township has a sign bylaw, but it doesn’t apply on township property, so technically, a sign could be placed there, she said.

But Fowler said there is already plenty of signage along the roadway, including the community centre sign, a sign explaining the park’s master plan, and a sign advertising an electric vehicle charging station at the library.

“To me it’s becoming cluttered,” he said, adding there is space a little further north of the ball association’s desired location.

Council voted to leave it to staff to work with the ball association on an appropriate place for temporary signage.


Scheduling for games and practices is fine for the 2024 season, Tuck said, but going forward, he’d like the township to consider giving preferential treatment to local teams if time slots become available.

He said he made inquiries in Guelph in case Puslinch Minor Softball needed more diamond space and learned Guelph Minor Ball gets first pick.

“We don’t do that here,” he said. “Here longtime rentals get first pick. But we’re growing and we’d love it if township teams would get first dibs. We’re looking for feedback. Is this justifiable?”

Councillor Russell Hurst thought that would be a good conversation for the recreation advisory committee as it could impact other groups, like minor soccer, for example.

Council decided to send the question to the rec committee and for staff to explore how other municipalities handle these situations.

Council also encouraged the ball association to “be active” in comments on the parks master plan that gets underway next year.