News

Council focuses on recreation future

By Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe Reformer

Norfolk’s community services department will run with the ball once Norfolk council charts a course for county recreation facilities into the future. Among those sitting in on the six community consultation meetings held across Norfolk this fall were, from left, parks and facilities manager Todd Shoemaker, community services general manager Bill Cridland, and recreation programs co-ordinator Susie Wray. New recreation infrastructure looms large on the agenda of Norfolk council’s final meeting of 2017 Dec. 12.  MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

Norfolk’s community services department will run with the ball once Norfolk council charts a course for county recreation facilities into the future. Among those sitting in on the six community consultation meetings held across Norfolk this fall were, from left, parks and facilities manager Todd Shoemaker, community services general manager Bill Cridland, and recreation programs co-ordinator Susie Wray. New recreation infrastructure looms large on the agenda of Norfolk council’s final meeting of 2017 Dec. 12. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER

SIMCOE - 

Next week’s meeting of Norfolk council could prove pivotal to the future of local recreation.

Norfolk’s recreation advisory committee will hold a final meeting Monday at the Simcoe Recreation Centre. The purpose will be to tie up loose ends from this fall’s deliberations.

On Tuesday, Norfolk council will consider the recommendations the committee made for new recreation infrastructure at its meeting Nov. 30.

Council is inclined to make some hard decisions. The Dec.12 meeting will be council’s last before the Christmas break. Council isn’t scheduled to meet again after this till the new year.

At this week’s meeting of council, Mayor Charlie Luke asked staff to clear the agenda for the Dec. 12 meeting so council can have as much time as it needs to go through the committee’s recommendations and discuss them as thoroughly as circumstances warrant.

Simcoe Coun. Doug Brunton thinks this is a good idea.

“I anticipate that – when these resolutions come to council – there could be a lengthy debate,” Brunton said.

At the Nov. 30 meeting, the advisory committee made the following recommendations:

• Norfolk council endeavour to find a new venue for the Simcoe Seniors Centre. The Simcoe Seniors Centre has 550-plus members. They have been housed in the Adult Community Building in downtown Simcoe for several decades. The Pond Street complex was built in the 19th century. A couple Norfolk councillors said at the Nov. 30 meeting that they don’t consider the ACB a safe place for seniors to gather.

• Norfolk County build a larger swimming pool to replace the facilities at the Annaleise Carr Aquatic Centre at the Norfolk County Fairgrounds. The swimming pool at the Simcoe Recreation Centre is 45 years old and no longer adequate for the county’s needs.

• Norfolk County build a new arena in Simcoe to replace the ice pad at the Simcoe Recreation Centre.

• Norfolk County make repairs to Talbot Gardens in downtown Simcoe if it can be twinned with a second ice pad.

• Norfolk County build a community gymnasium with basketball courts, volleyball courts, indoor tennis courts, an indoor walking track and other amenities as deemed necessary.

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 committee chair is Windham Coun. Jim Oliver. Other members include Simcoe Coun. Peter Black and Langton Coun. Roger Geysens.

“They’re good recommendations,” Oliver told council on Tuesday. “But that’s all they are at this point.”

MSonnenberg@postmedia.com