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Older Bradford West Gwillimbury parks being shown some love

Extra money was approved for Taylor Park - provided a federal grant is approved
Taylor Park (1)
Taylor Park, at the corner of Walker Ave. and Line 6, is set to nearly $750,000 worth of upgrades this year, provided a federal grant is approved.

Improved parks are coming to Bradford West Gwillimbury, with some of the older areas of town receiving some much-needed attention.

Staff reported on plans for park refurbishment and construction over the next four years at the town council meeting Tuesday night, focusing primarily on Taylor Park, Lions Park and Luxury Park. In September, staff gave council an overview of future years’ projects and budgets between 2022 and 2029. Councillors later requested additional information on those specific parks.

Construction will begin at Taylor Park this year to replace the current soccer fields with new tennis courts. For years, the soccer activities at Taylor Park have caused traffic and parking concerns in the neighbourhood during the summer months. With the new soccer fields open at Henderson Park, those programs could be moved to that facility, relieving the pressure on the neighbourhood and opening up the park for development.

Not a moment too soon, either. The tennis courts currently housed on the campus of the Bradford and District Memorial Community Centre will be removed as construction begins on the County of Simcoe’s affordable housing complex, slated for the corner of Simcoe Road and Marshview Boulevard.

Coun. Jonathan Scott, whose ward houses both Taylor Park and Lions Park, said there were some real “home runs” in this report. He also saw an opportunity for the town to invest more this year in Taylor Park.

Currently, the municipality has an open grant application for the further refurbishment of the park’s east end through the Canada Community Revitalization Fund. The grant, if successful, would cover 75 per cent of the cost of the plans, which include additional trees, a new multi-use court, and the potential for a community garden, among other amenities.

While there is optimism at town hall that the grant will be approved, the amount required by the municipality to cover wasn’t initially included in the $400,000 committed to Taylor Park in 2022.

“If we can approve it tonight, rather than tearing up Taylor Park two summers in a row, we could do it as one big project,” Scott said. “If we do get the federal money, doing it all at once is more cost-effective and less intrusive.”

While concerns about tender costs were discussed by councillors, ultimately the amendment carried, adding an additional $86,000 to the budget for Taylor Park, provided funding to the tune of approximately $257,000 comes in from the federal government.

It wasn’t money that was forecasted, “but if we’re going to spend money on this one, there’s great value to this one for the sum that will be received,” said Terry Foran, director of community services.

Slated for upgrades in 2024 is Luxury Park, which has served families in Bradford’s old southern end for more than five decades. With a forecasted budget of $680,000, the park is due for a significant face-lift, replacing the ageing ball diamond and basketball courts and transforming it “into a much more cohesive space, utilizing the entire area to its maximum potential,” the staff report indicated.

Included in the upgrades are a new fully accessible playground, a shade structure, a multi-use court and garden beds. Coun. Peter Dykie noticed one thing missing he knows the area residents want to see at Luxury Park.

“The public really wanted to see some sort of splash pad,” he said. “I know there’s a cost to this, but, the public, they see the new areas of town getting these beautiful, updated parks.”

While it’s an older area of town, the streets immediately surrounding Luxury Park are full of younger families, many of who are renting, Dykie said. With servicing at least partially in place, thanks to the dilapidated washroom facility at the park’s entrance that has been closed for decades, Dykie was hopeful the additional of at least a small splash pad could be feasible.

That’s a decision that will ultimately rest with the next council, but as Foran reminded councillors, a splash pad won’t be cheap.

“If council is serious about adding more amenities in there, consider the impacts,” he said. “A splash pad today could be $800,000; it’s not light. These are big decisions.”

The report also outlined $550,000 in upgrades to Lions Park in 2022, including the redevelopment of the area where Lions Pool was housed and a new park in Bond Head that the town has budgeted $845,000 for in 2024-2025. As well, information on a developer-built park in the new subdivision to the east of Simcoe Road near St. Charles Catholic School was included. A budget of $1.2 million is planned for 2023.