Burlington considers plan to let residents, private sector pay to improve park services
Burlington is considering a plan that would let the public and the business sector pay for things like swings, sports fields and facilities in parks or on private property to keep up with an unanticipated population explosion.
“All options will be on the table in terms of looking at funding sources to pay for services and amenities,” Burlington’s Recreation Planner Jim Seferiades told City councillors at a recent planning committee meeting.
His remarks came in response to residents who have approached the City to pay for amenities at a local park either through donations or by other fundraising methods.
The author of an interim report that looks at the future need for parks and cultural services in the City, Seferiades points out that unexpected demands to build more housing have pushed Burlington’s population beyond what was anticipated when a study of recreation needs was completed in 2009. Back then Burlington’s population was expected to be under 200,000 by 2031. Those prjections now see the city growing to 260,000 by 2051.
Burlington is currently in the midst of updating its strategy for dealing with the types of services that are needed in the years ahead.
“This projected growth will have a significant impact on parks, recreation and cultural services,” the interim report on the strategy reads. A more detailed report is expected later this year.
Another reason the City is concerned about future parkland is that the traditional way of obtaining it through provisions made by new development may be cut off by the Ontario government. If the new regulations go through, Burlington stands to lose out on tens of millions of dollars worth of parkland that normally it wouldn’t have to pay for.
At the meeting, City staff said the updated strategy will have to consider the wants and desires of residents in terms of recreational needs as well as anticipate future trends in the types of activities people will want to take part in.
“If partnerships are required with the public or corporations then it is something we are going to have to take a look at,” a source at City Hall noted later. “We may not have any other choice. We have to look at everything to make sure the public receives the type of service it expects and deserves. It may not be on City-owned property and the public may want to help pay for it. We have to look at all options.”
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