After many residents of the town of Hallville demanded answers following years of waiting for a new proposed park to be built, the decision-making process on the use of the parkland now appears to be moving quickly. Part of a regularly scheduled Council meeting on July 12 involved the discussion of some options for the Hallville park. One major point brought up at that meeting by Director of Recreation and Culture, Meaghan Meerburg, was the fact that the addition of a splash pad seems to be important for the community. However, since it was not part of the original plan, a splash pad would not be covered by the expected grant money, and a new grant application could take as long as six months, though fundraising for a splash pad would also be an option. Mayor Tony Fraser pointed out at the meeting that whether or not the funding is available for a splash pad in the short term, the space for one should be allotted in the planning of the park, in case the funds for one become available in the future.
A public consultation session regarding the park was held by the Township on July 25. Those who attended were provided with a comment card, and extra cards were also available for pick up at Loughlin’s Country Store as well as the Township office. Comment cards were due by July 29, and the Township posted on social media encouraging residents to check back for updates based on the comments received. However, no updates had been posted as of the time of writing.
Earlier this year, on June 21, Hallville resident Mary Cook acted as a representative of herself and fellow residents to bring her concerns to the Mayor and Council. In a document presented to members of Council at the meeting, Mary outlines the core concerns. “The residents of Hallville have been patiently awaiting a promised new community park since 2008,” the document reads. “We have watched other communities in North Dundas receive funding for upgrades, new items, theme parks, and infrastructure over these many years. The [Township] took down our small local park (installed by residents in the early 90s) back in 2018 with no replacement. Our community outdoor rink has been left in disrepair. Our children have had nowhere to play.”
At the meeting, Mary pointed out that Council is aware of the significant population increases in Hallville in recent years. She expressed concern that no plans will go forward in 2022. A petition of 175 signatures, signed by members of households representing a combined total of 218 children, was presented to Council demanding answers. Mary’s report also expresses a safety concern about walking along County Road 1 within the town of Hallville, due to speeding vehicles, increased traffic, deep ditches, a lack of sidewalks, and poor lighting. Ultimately, Mary requested a committed plan of action from Council, including open communication, as well as a request to know how the Township and the United Counties can work together to address safety concerns.
In answering Mary, Mayor Fraser first pointed out that the issues with the outdoor rink can possibly be addressed within the plans for a new park. He also told Mary that he and Deputy Mayor Armstrong have walked County Road 1 in Hallville in past years, and they noticed that the area was in disrepair. He confirmed that the Township has been in touch with the Counties regarding the safety concerns on County Road 1.
Deputy Mayor Armstrong also addressed Mary, telling her that the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the Hallville park project. Mayor Fraser added that the Township is excited about the park project, and that it will be the largest amount of money the Township has ever spent on a park. He also admitted that communication regarding the project could have been better. “There has been a failure on our end, and I will take ownership on that,” he said. The Mayor made a commitment toward improving communication.