Neighbours not happy; request changes to Aberfoyle recreational facility

The new recreational facility here was touted as a great addition to the community, but residents living across the road are wondering at what cost.

Rick Schnurr addressed Puslinch council last week on behalf of the residents of Maple Leaf Lane, located directly south of the new Optimist Recreation Centre (ORC) in Aberfoyle.

He said the residents have “a number of issues of significant concern,” including the appearance of the building, the “extreme” noise, alcohol policy, traffic and landscaping.

“It makes our neighbourhood look like an industrial park,” Schnurr said.

Residents are not happy, he told council, with the decision to move cooling equipment and two heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units and duct work to the south side of the ORC, just 140 feet from the front of area homes.

To make matters worse, residents were not advised of the move, and nor were they involved in the decision to direct ball park traffic down their dead-end street, Schnurr said.

He explained he and his neighbours also had to endure “four days of extreme noise” when the cooling units for the ice surface were first started up. He added calls to township staff and councillors were met with a “swift response,” and the noise has gotten better, but residents are still concerned about the noise.

As far as alcohol goes, the residents would like to see a complete ban in and around the ORC, given there are “impressionable children” in the area and that the facility is intended to “promote health and wellness.”

They also want Brock Road to remain the facility’s only access and a “visual buffer” of trees and shrubs between the ORC and the street.

Schnurr concluded by saying if the ORC comes in under its $2.1-million budget some of the changes residents are asking for could qualify for two-thirds funding under the Building Canada Fund grant received by the township.

Councillor Susan Fielding apologized to the residents Maple Leaf Lane, saying it was never the township’s intent  to slight them. She acknowledged the noise was “unacceptable” but stressed chief building official Dave Thompson was working hard to address the issues.

“It doesn’t look pretty, I agree,” she said of the cooling equipment and HVAC units. But she added it could be very expensive to move the equipment. Fielding agreed “to some extent” about alcohol, but said there could be events at the ORC under an alcohol permit, where consumption is controlled.

Councillor Jerry Schmidt told the delegation the township is open to working residents, though officials would have to look into more details.

“At least on the surface, your requests seem to be reasonable,” Schmidt said. “We’re open to working with you.”

But Mayor Dennis Lever seemed less positive about all the changes requested by residents.

“Some may be possible, and quite frankly, some may not be possible at all,” Lever said. The cooling system is still not working properly, he explained, and the township will not be taking any remedial steps for residents until the contractor at the ORC has solved all its own issues.

Councillor Wayne Stokley agreed, saying he is not sure about the feasibility of moving the cooling and HVAC equipment. He stressed the township has not assumed the building yet, and the cost of changes requested by residents also needs to be investigated.

“It’s not a closed case at this point,” Stokley said.

Lever said the township will remain in touch with residents on the matter and thanked them for the delegation.