Saturday, 7 February 2015

Breslau Memorial Park is More than Green Space

The proposed new school will affect more than some percentage of green space.  I, along with many others, have made the case that this building project will negatively affect the green space in Breslau and change the landscape that home owners expected when they purchased their homes.  However there is so much more to this story and we are just getting started.
In response, both the Township and the WCDSB have stepped up their information campaigns to try to reduce the perceived impact of this building project.  I guess that's what happens when you have over 140 signatures on a petition opposing the project.  The Township and the WCDSB are phrasing it as only a small percentage of the overall park  The problem with this argument is that this is free and open space, while other parts of the park have specific purposes (ie parking lots, baseball diamonds).  In the summer time the open park of Breslau Memorial park hosts approximately 120 children between 3 & 6 playing soccer.  You drop that school in there and there will not been enough space for that.  Below are a few recent tweets:

So I guess we touched a nerve on that one.  I think it is time to tackle a second major concern with this building plan and that concern is one of economics.

A Question of Ecomonics

The general response that I have been getting is that this land sale to WCDSB so that they can build a school on the park green space is because this is the only way to pay for all the "much needed" upgrades to Memorial park.  A summary of upgrades are as follows:
  • Move lower baseball diamond and replace lighting technology
  • Build a new comfort station (public bathroom)
  • Upgrades to the gymnasium (sound system, equipment)
  • Resurface the tennis courts, new lines and fencing.
  • Upgrades to a regulation size soccer field
  • Multi-use stone dust trail system.
  • A new storage building
  • Connect everything to municipal sewer and water
  • New Accessible playground (in conjunction with Parents Council)
  • Splash pad (in conjunction with Breslau Lions Club)
I know that they have promised more information at the meeting but I will be very interested in the following questions:
1. What is the total revenue expected from the sale of land to the WCDSB?
2. What type of income or financial arrangement has been made regarding the sharing of the library space and the gym space with the public? 
3. What is the expected cost for each of the proposed upgrades to the park?
4. When is the work on the upgrades proposed to begin? 
When you are in a disagreement with someone you always have to be willing to compromise and really listen to the other side.  If you are unwilling to compromise you will find that people will listen to you less and your opinion will no longer be heard.  So my challenge to myself is, "what would it take for me to support this project?"  The more I look at the plans and the more I hear from others this challenge becomes difficult.  However, if the Township and school board wanted to engage me they better have solid answers to the four questions above.  You can't expect me to support the permanent sale of a green space asset with a "promise" to spend at least some of the money here in Breslau.  I need to see that document that lays out the sale of the property and the rental/sharing agreements for collaborative spaces.  I need to see the total sale and how they plan on subtracting from it until it gets to 0 with every budget line corresponding to improvements and upgrades to my park.  That of course will just be a start.

Another key question:
Will there be any financial compensation to home owners who paid the park premium and for those who will need to change their backyard fence structure and gates because they now back onto school property?
There is way more to our concerns than just the loss of green space and we sincerely hope that when we show up on February 26 they have given some of this much more thought then it appears they have thus far.

The Library Carrot

You will notice that I neglected to include the proposed library on the list of upgrades that Breslau will get from this deal.  This is because I don't see the library as a part of this project.  I see the construction of a library being an absolute necessity in Breslau.  Wherever this school gets built in Breslau I fully expect / demand that a public library be a part of it.  If the school never gets built anywhere within Breslau then we need to start building our own fully accessible public library.  A library is the heart of a community, sharing events, details and literacy with the community.  If the planners and developers of this project begin to use the library as a carrot then you will see me get seriously upset.  A school partnership with the public library is an excellent model but it does not need to be build at the expense of Breslau Memorial park.

For my next post I want to talk about the actual school plans, safety, fences, and playground so if you have an opinion on that get in touch with me.


  1. Riverland is the name of the subdivision built on the west side of Woolwich Street. The Township of Woolwich, of which Riverland is a part, technically owns and operates Breslau Memorial Park. As such, they have the authority to sell or negotiate a sharing partnership with the school board.