At the February 23rd Richmond Hill Council meeting staff presented the Parks Plan, Recreation Plan, and Culture Plan Review – Key Findings and Directions Report seeking Council's endorsement in order to proceed with drafting an updated Parks Plan.
The Key Directions Report outlines key themes and findings based on the background research and community consultation that serve as a point of departure for updating the Parks Plan and developing a new combined Recreation and Culture Plan.
The main purpose of the review of the Parks Plan, Recreation Plan and Culture Plan is to focus the Plans’ visions towards delivering a financially sustainable system of parks, recreation, and cultural programs and facilities across the City.
At the upcoming March 9th Council meeting Councillor Perrelli is moving two Member Motions.
That staff be authorized to take all steps necessary to install 20 pickleball courts by the end of the year.
That staff be authorized to take all steps necessary to install an artificial turf, 11 v. 11, with bubble for all year use by the end of the year.
Staff is to report back with progress on these two items at the next Council meeting on March 23, 2022.
Why is Councillor Perrelli circumventing the review of the Parks Plan, Recreation Plan and Culture Plan with these two motions?
Councillor Perrelli obviously understands the importance and the need for the Plans. At the February 23rd Council Meeting he stated "the direction we move in is the first step and we need to get that right because the direction once we start we don't want to change direction" and "we really need to know how much money are we going to require for our parks how much money are we going to need for our community benefits"
Yet he is calling for a new soccer dome and 20 new pickleball courts by the end of this year.
There is no question that pickleball and soccer are popular sports but soccer domes and pickleball courts are big ticket items that should be included in the overall Plan discussion to ensure financial sustainability and that other budgetary priorities are met as well as to ensure that future park and recreation development meet the needs of all Richmond Hill residents not just the needs of some.
At the February 23rd meeting Mayor David West stated "to be clear we're not actually committing to any of those big ticket items today by passing the key directions report but we all know that that coming down the road there will have to be a juggling and a timing to create the investments that our community needs and that's really what this the final result of this process is really all about and I think we all are quite aware of that."
Yet with these motions Councillor Perrelli is asking Council to commit to these two big ticket items.
A Special Council Education and Training Workshop was held on March 2nd for Council to further discuss the Plans and for staff to answer questions. View Video here
According to Director Lee one of the biggest obstacles the City faces in building some of the facilities such as soccer fields is because of the lack of lands. He stated that you need a sizeable park in order to build a soccer filed and it's a challenge in an urbanizing municipality like Richmond Hill to continually find land. Given the high cost of land purchasing is also not a viable option. Director Lee stated "as an example, the lands that are owned by Treasure Hill (Major Mac/Leslie) for example where there was a minister's zoning order applied to them, we identified as an opportunity where we could potentially construct a soccer field that was met with considerable opposition from the developer. If the developer won't do it you end up in in quite a battle."