O’Hara questions The Centre’s $1.7 million Backyard Plan

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Petrolia Mayor John McCharles says it may be time to talk to the public about a plan to build outdoor sports fields at the Oil Heritage District Community Centre.

The plan dubbed The Backyard Plan has been talked about in council chambers and McCharles says the community centre committee and the parks and recreation committee have a plan which includes building tennis and basketball courts, a splash pad, skateboard park, soccer pitches and a baseball diamond on the land around the centre.

In the 2015, Director of Finance Rick Charlebois laid out how much money might be necessary to complete the plan – $1.7 million. He’s spread the expense over five years with the bulk of the spending taking place in 2019.

But Councilor Ross O’Hara questioned the expense, wondering out loud exactly what was included in the project and if it was really needed. O’Hara wanted to delay the project for a year, taking about $64,000 out of the 2015 budget.

“I still have a problem with $64,000 for the Backyard Project especially when we have an eight per cent increase and we’re having a hard time taking care of what we have,” he said during the budget meeting.

Director of Community Services, Dave Menzies, says the $64,000 this year is, in part, for a study to plan exactly what the backyard would look like. “We need a vision for the backyard,” he says adding the town doesn’t want to just build a splash park and then realize the basketball or tennis court would have been better in that spot.

And Menzies says a number of community groups have committed funds for the project and the town is “getting pressure to do something.”

McCharles told The Independent he isn’t sure there was ever a public meeting about the idea of concentrating sports activities around the centre or the $1.7 million cost and he says, it may be time to do that.

“It may be time for public input and a feasibility study to see what the public wants and what the public will pay for,” he says. “It has been the dream of quite a few people and it may be time to bring this to the populous…to get some ideas and generate some interest.

“We have a lot of parks and parks cost us money – big time money…How much can we afford?”




One Response to “O’Hara questions The Centre’s $1.7 million Backyard Plan”

  1. Ron Grant

    It sounds like a great plan. But it’s to far off the beaten path for the people that are supposed to use it. The young people of Petrolia.
    Sure a select few very young ones would be dragged there buy mommy fussed over and made to ware there helmet and knee pads, but it would be a 1.7 million dollar white elephant the rest of the young folks would simply not use.

    If you want to build the kids a skate park Build it where the kids are!
    The old tennis court on Pettybone would be much better. Or where Peat’s 2nd hand was on Railroad. Right off down town where the kids can get at it.
    and Tim Hortons. No fences, No locks, No guards, Nobody bothering them.
    Better yet ban parking behind the library and let the young folks have that space. Build them a long board lane. North west side of the flats from Tank Street down the hill when we redo the roadway. All the way down into the Bridge view park valley floor with a few good turns ending at the bottom of the bridge underpass with steps back up to the roadway. Really build them something great. You should have built this behind the library where the young folks can get at it instead of a parking lot and an old folks home.