ABERFOYLE – Puslinch resident Cameron Tuck approached council on Nov. 6 seeking funding to provide lights at the Morriston Ball Diamond.
Tuck spoke on behalf of Puslinch Minor Ball, the Flamborough Old Timers League and other leagues that use the facilities.
“We, as a recreation organization in the township, understand that funding for the project is at a premium,” he said.
Tuck hoped to fundraise throughout the community as an investment in youth and adults in the community – for now and in the future coming.
“Puslinch is in a very fortunate situation because of our location,” he said. “We are located close to urban centres; we provide two ball diamonds between these centres.”
Tuck added traditionally baseball is played throughout the week – however today, the sport is played on weekends, too.
Puslinch Minor Ball and the adult leagues do not support the idea that one lit diamond is enough, which was conveyed numerous times throughout the creation of the township’s master recreation plan, he said.
“Most parents have sports for their children during the weekend, such as soccer, hockey, lacrosse, etc,” Tuck said.
Puslinch youth can participate in Puslinch baseball throughout the week and meet obligations for other sports on the weekend.
Another concern, he said, is that most baseball tournaments and playoffs are scheduled on weekends.
“So we need to be able to play during the week,” Tuck said. “This leads to the need to maintain two lit diamonds in our community.”
Tuck explained the ball diamond in Aberfoyle with lights is rented for the entire baseball season Sunday to Thursday.
Currently, the two lit diamonds in Puslinch host three old-timer teams.
Two of those teams play exclusively at the Aberfoyle diamond, the other at the Old Morriston diamond.
“In the event of a rainout, the diamonds are already booked and to get back into the schedule means waiting until the end of the year or to play in Morriston,” Tuck said, adding that the particular team he is involved with played in Rockton because the local diamonds could not facilitate the games.
The parks master plan supports the Old Morriston diamond remaining lit.
Tuck added that council also recently received a delegation requesting the Morriston diamond washrooms be reopened.
“Council appears to support keeping Old Morriston as a ball diamond; however lights do not appear in the asset management plan or the fiscal forecast,” he said.
“It just makes sense to keep the lit diamonds in Aberfoyle and Morriston.
“Our goal as a recreational community is to persuade council to identify the needs of the Old Morriston as the second diamond to maintain within the parks master plan.”
Tuck added, “it is important our facilities are kept up to date and not left behind, we feel the same about Puslinch Minor Ball. We are moving forward and really hope the township moves in the same direction.
“We believe the sports teams in our township help children in the community grow mentally and physically.”
Tuck noted the Old Morriston diamond began as a private park in the 1970s on land donated by local farmers with the intent that it remain a lit diamond.
At some point the property was deeded to the township, Tuck said.
“It is now apparent that the wishes and desires of the community members who donated this land and built the lights has been lost,” Tuck said. “In hindsight, it should have been a condition within the transfer of ownership.
“We can’t go back, but we do want to move forward. We respectfully request that the Old Morriston diamond be designated as one of the township’s two diamonds to have lights.”
Further, he asked the township to apply for funding to replace infrastucture at the Morriston facility – inclusive of lighting, washroom upgrades and a potential playground.
He said Puslinch Minor Ball is prepared to provide a minimum $10,000 for the lighting in addition to undertaking fundraising efforts.
Councillor John Sepulis said the township is trying to get funds for the soccer field in Aberfoyle and asked staff if the township also applied for funding for the lights in Morriston.
“Is there a chance we may be applying for too much?” he asked.
Finance director Mary Hasan said there is criteria for each application.
The township can submit multiple applications – but specific criteria need to be met.
Councillor Matthew Bulmer thanked Tuck “for chastising in such a polite manner.”
Bulmer added the discussion caused him to reflect on the value of the gifts the township has received from the community.
“You helped remind me that perhaps we haven’t shown the due respect of this gift,” he said.
“How we take care of the gifts we are given reflects on the community as a whole and how we feel about the people who gave us those gifts.”
Councillor Jessica Goyda said, “I find it very helpful to hear about what is needed – directly from the users. It really helps shed a new light.”
She noted that since council was not passing a budget that night, there would still be time to make a presentation to the township’s recreation committee.
Goyda was also pleased the group was going to look at various fundraising efforts in addition to being prepared to make a financial donation.
“I think this will be a collaborative effort between fundraising, grants and other sources of funding – because this is going to be expensive and we have a lot of things on the table we are trying to achieve,” she said.
Sepulis asked that consideration be given to applying for a grant and with a realistic estimate of the work that’s needed.
Council referred this matter to the 2020 budget process.
Later, as part of a report on the Parks Master Plan – Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, council endorsed a recommendation that stated should council wish to replace the lights and upgrade the washrooms at Old Morriston Park, staff be directed to apply to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program for Community, Culture and Recreation.