Puslinch awards contract for two park projects; community group wants to halt one

PUSLINCH – Council is determined to proceed with installing a new playground at Boreham Park, even as a community group hopes to pause the project so the township can first deal with infrastructure at the site.

The township has two major parks projects planned for this summer: new accessible playground equipment and a shade shelter at Boreham Park and upgrades at the park behind the Puslinch Community Centre (PCC).

Council awarded the contract for work at both sites to Ritchfield Inc. at its May 3 meeting.

Ritchfield’s $2.5-million bid was nine per cent lower than the second lowest bid, but 30% higher than the pre-tender estimate of $1.7 million ($1.5 million for PCC park and $236,000 for Boreham Park).

The township received two grants: an Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program grant worth $1.4 million for lighting at the soccer field on the PCC grounds and an Ontario Trillium Foundation grant worth $150,000 for the accessible playground equipment at Boreham Park.

Working with Seferian Design Group, which created the park plans, township staff managed to shave $97,000 from the cost by substituting some of the materials to be used.

But that still left them $428,000 short.

Staff recommended using the cash in lieu of parkland reserve to cover the shortfall and council supported that.

Work on both parks is to be conducted in May and June. Boreham Park is expected to be complete and able to be used this summer with a ribbon cutting ceremony sometime in the fall.

But Bruce Taylor believes the township is putting the cart before the horse with Boreham Park.

Taylor is a member of the Concerned Citizens of Puslinch. Its Boreham Park committee and has delegated to council before on the matter.

The park is essentially divided into quadrants by drainage ditches that Taylor says:

  • are deep and wide and therefore dangerous;
  • are not compliant with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA); and
  • leave the township open to liability should someone become injured.

He brought up these points to council previously and even brought a representative from the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to explain that while the playground equipment might be AODA compliant, the park itself is not.

And now he has learned stagnant water in the ditches is full of pathogens that pose a potential health risk to children and pets.

“Dangerous pathogens in stormwater ditches are not unique to farmland or ditches along roads,” states a report written by the Boreham Park committee.

“What is unique is that disease-producing pathogens exist in the ditches of Boreham Park, on three sides of the playground area and only 10 to 12 feet away from where children play.”

Taylor, who forwarded the report to councillors and senior township staff, as well as the Advertiser, said he hopes this new information will convince council to address the drainage before installing the new playground.

“On Boreham Park, it’s obvious the mayor and council are failing us,” Taylor stated in an email.

“The solution is first fill-in the ditches and install an underground tile or pipe around the playground area.

“Then, build a beautiful, safe, fully accessible, and pathogen-free park.”

Earlier in the year, council directed staff to look into the cost and feasibility of installing drainage pipes at Boreham Park and levelling out the park. That report has not yet returned to council.

Councillors also received clarification that drainage work, if and when it gets done, could be done without having to dismantle the playground or shade pavilion.

“I’m very proud of this,” Mayor James Seeley said on May 3 when council approved the contractor for Boreham Park.

“This is very important for the community and you all persevered. I thank you for weathering the challenges.”

Meanwhile, the Boreham Park committee has posted signs at the park warning park users of potential pathogens in the drainage ditches.