Committee recommends new rec facilities for Simcoe
The availability of serviced land in Simcoe is going to have a big influence on where Norfolk spends its recreation dollars. The matter was discussed Thursday during a meeting of Norfolk’s recreation subcommittee at Talbot Gardens. Scouting potential locations on a map, from left, were Mayor Charlie Luke, geographic information supervisor Rich Roberts, Simcoe Coun. Peter Black and Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
The future of recreation in Simcoe and surrounding area is beginning to come into focus.
The county committee struck this summer to field input on Norfolk’s recreational needs approved several recommendations Thursday at a meeting at Talbot Gardens.
The committee has endorsed finding a new location for the Simcoe Seniors Centre, construction of a new swimming pool and arena to replace the facilities at the Simcoe Recreation Centre, and repairs to Talbot Gardens if it can be twinned with a second ice pad.
The committee has also recommended construction of a multi-use gymnasium. The indoor facility would include tennis courts, a walking track and courts for basketball and volleyball among other activities.
The committee also recommended Simcoe as the location for these improvements, although there promises to be a discussion about locating the community gym in Delhi.
“A myriad of people young and old will use this space,” Mayor Charlie Luke said of the gymnasium. “Many more things could be added as we expand it.”
Windham Coun. Jim Oliver is chair of Norfolk’s recreation subcommittee. Council-appointed members include Simcoe Coun. Peter Black and Langton Coun. Roger Geysens.
Mayor Luke is also a voting member. Remaining members of Norfolk council have sat in on the committee’s deliberations and provided input as the chair sees fit.
Norfolk council formed the committee after concluding that expenditures on facility repairs over the next few years will be in the range of $13 million. The arena and swimming pool at the Simcoe Recreation Centre were built in the early-1970s and are beginning to show their age.
The question for Norfolk council is whether it is wiser to repair these facilities or build replacements with current designs and technology.
The easiest recommendation Thursday concerned the need for a new seniors centre in Simcoe.
Two councillors said the sooner Norfolk relocates the seniors from the Adult Community Building on Pond Street the better. The fact the building was constructed in the 19th century makes some nervous.
“No. 1 is the seniors centre,” said Simcoe Coun. Doug Brunton. “That place is dangerous in my opinion. That’s my No. 1 concern. Where we end up putting it, I’m not sure.”
Port Dover Coun. John Wells agreed.
“I don’t think that’s a safe space for them to be,” he said. “All these facilities have problems. But this facility has big problems.”
Most of the pending expenditures will be in Simcoe.
“Let’s be realistic,” said Delhi Coun. Mike Columbus. “These are Simcoe facilities. But anything we build should be on the west side of Simcoe. The further west the better.”
Coun. Geysens agreed. If new facilities have to be built, Geysens said situating them on the west side of Simcoe would provide the greatest benefit to the greatest number. The west side of Simcoe is about 20 minutes away from Delhi, Langton, Port Rowan, Waterford and Port Dover.
“All of the county is going to pay for this,” Geysens said. “Let’s at least include something for them. If this is for the east side of Simcoe where it’s closer to Haldimand than the rest of Norfolk I say no.”
The multi-use gymnasium could prove contentious. A group in Delhi is already organizing support for such a facility as an add-on to Delhi District Secondary School.
At a recent public meeting in Delhi, it was suggested several times that Delhi is the geographic centre of Norfolk and thus worthy of a community facility. Columbus said council will have to discuss this situation further once the recreation committee recommendations come to the floor at Governor Simcoe Square.
How all of this pans out depends on the availability of land. Community services staff have been directed to scout the area and see what’s available. Todd Shoemaker, Norfolk’s manager of parks and facilities, says a recreational hub in Simcoe would require about 25 acres of serviced land.