Mapleton council approves update to Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan

MAPLETON – An update to the township’s Parks and Recreation Strategic Master Plan was approved at a special council meeting on Jan. 10.

The plan, presented by consultant Sean Kelly of Stempski, Kelly and Associates, includes priority projects under seven categories.

Kelly pointed out acceptance of the strategic plan update doesn’t tie council into a major spending commitment.

“When we do these projects, they’re very fluid. I want everyone to understand that no one’s asking for the budget in totality,” Kelly explained.

“It’s really up to the municipality at hand to decide what projects are going to be coming out of the recommendations. And that’s really important to know, because I know you can get sticker shock on some of this.”

Under accessibility and safety, proposed projects include washroom upgrades at Moorefield Ball Park (estimated at $15,000) and the Drayton Agricultural Grounds ($10,000).

Playground projects include an accessibility audit of all playgrounds in the township ($5,000), barrier- free play options ($72,000) and an accessible playground at Drayton Ridge park, which is currently under development ($150,000).

Trails, wayfinding and signage projects include development of a township-wide trails master plan ($15,000), a wayfinding and signage plan ($15,000), a trails feasibility study ($7,500) a parks and recreation satisfaction study ($5,000), and new sign for Wallace Cumming Park off Wellington Road 17 ($5,000).

The plan indicates that additional facility and programming development, along with proposed management and marketing initiatives, mean designated staff will be required to take on new responsibilities.

Suggested projects, with budgets to be determined, include a job description review, consolidation of reservations for hall rentals, training for Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act requirements and development of volunteer and youth initiatives and an arts and culture advisory committee.

Appointing staff to address marketing and funding, as well as grant writing, is also recommended.

Noting youth and senior age groups are expected to continue dominating the population makeup in Mapleton, the report recommends increased recreational and leisure style programming for both groups to “engage the community and encourage local participation.”

Suggested projects include monitoring and modifying the recently-launched summer camp program, designating staff and supplies to a March Break camp and forming an advisory committee to establish a public arts program.

Under communications, the consultants recommend development of the community’s leisure guide and coordination of a volunteer board.

The report suggests efforts to accrue revenue through advertising and partnerships “will assist the township in controlling fees, and its ability to offer space to groups requiring subsidy.”

Suggestions under funding and revenue include:

  • identify new opportunities for partnerships;
  • appoint a grant application writer;
  • appoint staff to address marketing and funding opportunities;
  • promote advertising in arena, leisure guide and on the township’s website;
  • develop program to offset utility and maintenance costs for charitable events requiring the use of township facilities; and
  • themed movie nights at the Drayton Festival Theatre and similar fundraisers.

The initiative to update the 2012 strategic plan began in 2019.

The updated plan outlines a proposed 10-year capital plan, totalling $1.023 million (in 2019 dollars), designed to deliver the proposed initiatives, states a Jan. 10 staff report.

“Some of the proposed capital expenditure is already embedded into the existing one-year capital forecast as identified through the initiatives originally proposed through the 2012 plan,” the report continues.

The plan notes that during development of the update, the township applied for a grant through Infrastructure Canada’s Green and Inclusive Community Buildings Fund to cover most of the cost of proposed upgrades to the PMD arena.

If approved, “The potential grant funding could be valued at $10 million,” the report notes.

“That potential grant award will offset approximately $2 million dollars of already budgeted funds included in the public works 2021 to 2029 capital budget forecast for the PMD Arena.”

A second significant opportunity that recently emerged is the planned development of a new, fully accessible, state of the art, park as part of a joint project with community non-profit groups and a local play equipment supplier.

The new park will be located on vacant land parcel adjacent to the Conestogo River at the foot of Queen Street in Drayton.

“Both of these initiatives support the updated master plan and will help to better position Mapleton to successfully deliver on the new master plan initiatives,” the report notes.

A $50,000 line item for integrating a new outdoor rink into plans for the PMD arena grounds prompted discussion at the meeting.

“Before we put in more money towards that I’m just wondering if that’s the best location?” said councillor Paul Douglas.

Douglas suggested council consider “a more central location, rather than up behind the arena, especially if we’re looking at, with the grant potential, of expanding that area and future parking needs.”

“The rink is already built and I can report that we have not spent anywhere near $50,000. The cost so far, is around $1,000,” said public works director Sam Mattina.

Even if boards were added around the rink, Mattina said he did not believe the cost would reach $50,000. He also feels the current location is a good one.

Kelly explained the higher figure would also include a concrete pad, which could be used for other activities in the off season.

“Ideally, that is a good location, because we are using the Olympic ice finisher to finish the surface and, as you know, it’s parked inside the arena and so the proximity of having that machine close by certainly helps with the condition and the quality of the ice,” Mattina explained.

“We’ve also got water readily available, power readily available, all those things are there.

“So we chose that location for its proximity to those amenities. And it just makes it so much easier and cost effective. Everyone is used to going there for ice.”

Councillor Dennis Craven observed that no matter where the arena is located, it will be further from some residents than others.

“People just have to understand that if they have to drive to it, they have to drive to it. Any arena you’d have to drive to, so drive to that one, too,” he said.

Craven also expressed concern about the potential for damage to the arena ice resurfacing machine.

“I have an idea how much a new Zamboni would cost us and I just don’t want any damage done to the Zamboni taking it outside to this surface,” Craven stated.

“Because I think they’re a couple of hundred thousand dollars to buy a new one. It’s on the on the budget to do it in five or six years, but I just don’t want to have to do it any sooner.”

Mayor Gregg Davidson asked Kelly if the township was approaching the population level to require an arena with two ice pads.

“The magic number, I think the standard out there, is usually about 45,000 minimum,” Kelly responded.

The consultant also poured cold water on the idea of a municipal swimming pool in the township.

“It would probably be negligent for me to say that a community the size of Mapleton should have a pool for its own population,” said Kelly.

“Basically, just because we find that the numbers that you do have and the amount of travel and the geographic range within Mapleton, probably precludes the use of that, where someone on … the outskirts would probably be better served going to an adjacent community for their pool, rather than driving to the one you may you may create in your own community.”

Kelly added, “And where does it go? Likely in Drayton I guess, would be the answer, or the population centre, maybe.

“But you know, Drayton is not that far from other communities that would have pools as well.”

Councillor Michael Martin asked Kelly, “How much would you look at a pool or any other sort of parks and rec facility, whether it’s the ice pad or otherwise … as an economic driver?

“Do we lose business by having our people in Drayton, Moorefield … heading to Palmerston or Elmira for swimming lessons?” Martin wondered.

“Then they stop and grab a chocolate bar and refuel their car and then come back. And suddenly there’s, you know, 50 bucks that could have been spent in Drayton or Moorefield. Is there an argument for that?”

“That’s a great question. And I mean, it’s part of the equation, the cost-benefit analysis,” said Kelly adding the question “gets complex pretty quickly.

“Again, when I look at the size of the township and I wonder could they sustain the pool, whether we should build it … there’s very few people doing outdoor pools.

“It’ll be an indoor pool of some size. Then what kind of facility are you getting into? And what are the costs on that? And I think it would be a long time paying for it, from user fees anyway,”

Kelly continued, “If you can get it granted, that’s one thing. But what I know of granted facilities in smaller municipalities, it’s the operational costs and the maintenance costs that actually get to them.

“It’s not the capital cost.”

Council approved a motion to receive the staff report and adopt the Township of Mapleton Parks and Recreations Strategic Master Plan update as recommended by the township’s parks and recreation committee.

Council also authorized staff to implement the updated plan.