Wellington North seeks $200,000 Trillium grant to improve playgrounds

KENILWORTH – Wellington North is applying to the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) for $200,000 to help fund improvements at Conn Community Park and Lion Merv Weber Playground.

If the full amount is provided, the grant would help cover drainage improvements, engineered wood fibre and playground equipment at the two parks.

“The two playgrounds will have similar work completed, but on a different scale,” community development coordinator Mike Wilson wrote in a report.

According to the March 25 report, work in Conn is estimated to cost $95,000, and work in Mount Forest estimated at $195,000. The remaining $90,000 shortfall not covered by the grant is proposed to be funded through the township’s 2025 capital budget.

At Conn Community Park, water pools around the playground during rains and snow melts because it’s in a low spot, Wilson explained in his report.

Accessible surfacing would be added there, along with play equipment designed for children between five and 12 years old.

Flooding concerns and accessible surfacing would also be addressed at the Lion Merv Weber playground, but there would be two play structures added there catering to a wider age range.

In response to a question from councillor Steve McCabe at last week’s council meeting, community and economic development manager Mandy Jones said the township expects to hear back about funding in August, with the project slated to begin in January 2025 and last 12 months.

The timeline allows a backup plan for council to discuss funding the projects in the 2025 budget should the OTF grants not work out, Jones said.

Councillor Sherry Burke was thankful for the attention being given to the flooding issues, but said she’s concerned about the timing as the township seeks cash to build a new pool in Mount Forest.

The township wouldn’t be competing with itself because the projects are distinct, CAO Brooke Lambert said.

“The pool has been identified as a project we are certainly moving forward with,” she added.

The playground improvements, however, may not move forward at all without grant funding, Lambert said.

Councillor Penny Renken wants play equipment to be accessible for those who are disabled, and she advocated for rubber matting instead of fibre wood chips.

“It’s easier for wheelchairs to be pushed on,” Renken said, asking for her suggestion to be considered.

The township previously received $18,200 for Arthur pool upgrades in 2021, and $66,000 in 2016-17 for improvements to Murphy Park in Mount Forest, according to the staff report.