News

Room too small for turnout at Waterford public consultation meeting

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Interest in Norfolk County’s “recreational road show” is surprisingly high judging from the turnout at the inaugural meeting in Waterford Monday night. The event was subsequently cancelled due to an over-capacity crowd for the Tricenturena meeting room. Among those on hand to have their say were members of the Norfolk Knock-Outs of the Norfolk County Roller Derby league. Members include Lisa “Mini Hot Wheels” Cooper, who is seated at centre. Behind Cooper from left are Becky “Rust In Peace” Rust, Emma “Em-Balm” Conn, Tara “Bone Shaker” Gurney, Emilie “Public Emilie” Nolet, Jenna “Jenna-Cide” Thompson, and Krista “Fista Krusher” Fischer. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Interest in Norfolk County’s “recreational road show” is surprisingly high judging from the turnout at the inaugural meeting in Waterford Monday night. The event was subsequently cancelled due to an over-capacity crowd for the Tricenturena meeting room. Among those on hand to have their say were members of the Norfolk Knock-Outs of the Norfolk County Roller Derby league. Members include Lisa “Mini Hot Wheels” Cooper, who is seated at centre. Behind Cooper from left are Becky “Rust In Peace” Rust, Emma “Em-Balm” Conn, Tara “Bone Shaker” Gurney, Emilie “Public Emilie” Nolet, Jenna “Jenna-Cide” Thompson, and Krista “Fista Krusher” Fischer. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

WATERFORD - 

Norfolk was forced to call a time-out on its recreation consultation process this week after an overflow crowd turned out to the first community meeting in Waterford.

County staff booked the executive room at the Tricenturena for Monday’s meeting. The room is rated for 35 people. Meanwhile, nearly 100 turned out to comment on the future of recreation in Norfolk or to listen in.

The meeting was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Less than half an hour later, Mayor Charlie Luke recommended adjournment. Luke said afterwards that the crowd was perilously close to violating fire code standards.

“The fine for that is stiff,” Luke said. “If the county can’t follow the rules, how do we expect other people to? Come on.”

Council’s recreation advisory subcommittee is comprised of Windham Coun. Jim Oliver (chair), Simcoe Coun. Peter Black and Langton Coun. Roger Geysens.

The subcommittee has been tasked with visiting Norfolk’s urban centres and fielding input on what residents think of their existing recreation facilities and where the county should go in the future.

Items on the agenda include a proposal for a multi-million dollar recreational hub in Simcoe. Support for the initiative on Norfolk council is lukewarm but council remains open to suggestions.

Following Monday’s false start, Oliver said the plan is to reschedule the Waterford meeting for next week. That meeting will be held Sept. 28 at Waterford Public School on East Church Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The formal portion of the meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Councillors representing the communities where the consultation touches down have also been invited to sit in on the deliberations.

Monday, Waterford Coun. Harold Sonnenberg noted there was a lot of out-of-town interest in the Tricenturena gathering. Were it not for that, Sonnenberg suspects the chosen venue would have been adequate.

“The committee was taken aback,” Sonnenberg said. “They didn’t know what to expect. More people turned out than were expected. In the end, we decided to have another meeting in a bigger venue.”

A false start for any process is always a setback. But many were pleased that there is such intense interest in the county’s recreational future. Some say that bodes well for the process ahead.

“Maybe Waterford needs its own community hub,” quipped Waterford resident David Douglas.

Donna Pajor-Laning of Waterford was a star track athlete in her teens. With a young family to tend to she has an ongoing interest in the county’s recreational future. She too saw a silver lining to Monday’s cancellation.

“Waterford’s a really vibrant community,” she said. “It’s a community that cares and that’s a good thing.”

The next community consultation is scheduled for Monday evening in Port Dover. It will take place at the Lions Community Centre on St. George Street. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The formal part of the proceeding begins at 7 p.m.

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com