Erin RACC recommends new structure and funds

The recreation and culture committee (RACC) here has asked council to consider reorganization and reallocations of funds to improve the committee.

At the Jan. 20 Erin council meeting Bill Dunwoody explained, on behalf of RACC, a decline in participation at the committee level as well as in the use of committee services.

When the committee was created 10 years ago, it was expected there should be 13 volunteer members, but now there are just four, despite the committee’s efforts to attract more members, Dunwoody said.

Based on the terms of reference the committee is in a “reactionary” position and needs to wait for the community to request an analysis of recreation projects, Dunwoody explained. The committee isn’t structured and is there only “to assist council with the decision and direction,” he said.

Dunwoody said the current volunteers would still like to work on the committee but they need a direction and a three to five year recreational plan.

“I think if we can get a master plan set up we need someone with a recreation background, we don’t have that background, and somebody can sit down and say ‘we’d like to do this in three years, this in four years and this in five years,’” he said.

“And maybe in 10 years we’re going to build that arena in the town because the two we’ve got are falling down.”

Councillor John Brennan said he hopes an operational review will indicate what should be done with the recreation department.

“Hopefully … that might provide us with a clearer picture and a better chance to restructure this committee and bring it to a more useful thing,” Brennan said at council.

Dunwoody also suggested council create a “war chest” of funds “to meet the challenges and requirements of future recreational projects and not have them rely only on taxes,” the report said.

Dunwoody suggested the town take money directed at parkland from housing development and put it into a fund to support only new trail and recreation requirements in the town.

“In this manner future major projects would avoid pressure on property taxes,” the report stated.

Brennan agreed with this suggestion.

“I kind of like too the idea of looking at the cash in lieu of park plan that we do get from developers and that sort of thing,” he said.

“I think we can safely try and earmark that specifically for this kind of trail and recreation requirement.”

Dunwoody also presented a report on the Erin historical trails committee at the meeting. The trails committee has 26 people and recently formed a partnership with Erin Rotary.

The committee will be working with the heritage committee to create a “tour guide pamphlet” so users can go on their own walking tour of the town, know where they’re going and know what historical buildings they are passing.

Councillor Matt Sammut suggested using ERINinfo, a new town alert system using email or text, to connect people with the trail maps.

“If we’ve got enough people on ERINinfo, people could link to a site so they’re better educated on the trails we have, the parks we have, all these type resources that reside in our own backyard,” he said.

The trails report also suggested developing trails in Hillsburgh and Orton that connect to the Elora Cataract and Grand Valley trails, along with a connection to Caledon trails.

Mayor Allan Alls said  the county agreed to give money in the coming years towards trails in the county.