I read the letter from Steve Hammond in last week’s Times with interest. I applaud the consistency shown in his correspondence, which may be summarized as: “don’t spend money on anything, especially if it’s for the common good, unless it specifically benefits me”.
Contrary to Mr. Hammond’ view, Parks and Recreation facilities bring enormous benefits to a community and are an important factor in attracting new residents, especially young families with children. We can’t pick and choose which facilities our tax dollars go towards, but we can help to guide council. Sometimes we have to accept that we are part of a wider community and our tax dollars fund facilities for the common good, rather than our personal wants.
Even though I live in a rural part of the municipality, I make use of the trails system, I kayak on Kemptville creek and skate at the arena. I’d love to have a system of groomed cross-country ski trails, which may even bring visitors into the area; and how about being able to swim lengths in a decent indoor pool. The present facility can hardly be considered to meet modern requirements, while it’s a fun venue on a summer day, I’d draw the line at taking a polar plunge even if the pool was open.
I’m sure that the figures Mr. Hammond uses to calculate the requirements for recreational facilities based on Ottawa are correct. However, they display an outstanding lack of knowledge when it comes to catchment areas, planning, growing a community and attracting newcomers.
I do appreciate that much of Mr. Hammond’s letter is written tongue in cheek, at least I hope it is! Sure, wading in the creek, turning on the sprinkler, and going to the beach are great fun, but sometimes a pool, or even dare I say it a splash pad, are better options. The statistics for drownings in Ontario are frightening, the ability to teach children to swim in a safe environment would be good use of taxpayers’ money.
Mr. Hammond’s comparisons of the deleterious effects of high taxes compared to the benefits of recreational facilities are debatable, but I certainly accept the need for economic security. However, calling a halt to development and being “happy with what we already have” isn’t exactly a recipe for improving our society. Economic security, health, and recreation can go hand in hand. Good heavens, in some countries doctors even prescribe a course of visits to the local gym, pool etc. All funded by the health system.
In conclusion, I’m afraid that I have to reject Mr. Hammond’s Parks and Recreation master plan. For a comprehensive survey of the Municipality’s requirements over the coming years, $75,000 will be money well spent. My only caveat is that it must look at the rural areas, as well as the urban core. I really would like to drive to any new facilities on a decent tarmac road.