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Puslinch discusses increasing park maintenance and staffing

As the township considers upgrading its existing parks and recreation facilities, most councillors feel additional support is necessary for the 2024 budget

PUSLINCH ‒ A councillor's proposal for an annual spring clean-up of the Millennium Garden opened a broader conversation about the future of parks and recreation as the township grows.

Broaching the topic at Wednesday's council meeting, Coun. Sara Bailey asked that staff consider including a one-time annual clean-up of the Millennium Gardens which would allow volunteers to maintain the grounds "at a reasonable capacity" throughout the year. 

However, director of public works, parks, and facilities, Mike Fowler said that since the gardens have always been volunteer-run and operated, staff are not prepared to offer additional services. 

“Currently staff resources for parks and facilities are pretty much at their limits for springtime duties and responsibilities,” said Fowler. “ So you know, we have quite a bit of open green space that we’re responsible for and at this time, without additional resources, it would be quite tough to make promises for increased services at the Millennium Gardens.” 

But Bailey and Mayor James Seeley both agreed that additional park maintenance across the township will be necessary in the future, especially considering the ongoing upgrades to facilities like the PCC Park, and the 2024 budget should reflect that. 

“I know we’re not at that stage yet but I’m just wanting to start the conversation about how we can encourage more programming or have a little bit of outreach towards the community,” said Bailey. 

Bailey also asked to see an increase in town-supported recreation programming and advertising as she feels there are opportunities for town facilities to be used by more local families. 

“I know my son is part of a hockey team and they’ve been renting the arena and it’s so great to see it but it’s lots of Guelph kids coming and using the facilities,” said Bailey. “The way I look at it, it should be full of Puslinch kids using these facilities.” 

Later in the meeting, Seeley and Coun. Jessica Goyda proposed that boosting the Recreation Advisory Committee's quarterly meetings to six to eight times a year might counteract some of the committee's existing struggles with balancing fundraising on a quarterly schedule. 

The committee will also meet with the Youth Advisory Committee in the future to brainstorm how to generate more local use. 

However, Fowler warned that there would definitely be budget implications to all of these suggestions as it would mean higher facility usage, which will require higher staffing and maintenance costs. 

Goyda also asked that council consider updating Puslinch's Recreation and Parks Master Plan as many of the existing projects are coming to a close and she feels that now would be a great time to look at new goals and figure out future priorities. 

Staff will return to council at a future meeting with budget considerations for all items proposed; an annual clean-up of Millennium Park will be reconsidered during discussions about rehabilitation and maintenance of the PCC Park once updates are completed. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

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About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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