by Rachel Everett-Fry, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On June 15, Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture Mark Guy delivered to Council a Feasibility Study as part of the Riverside Park Project. Director Guy provided Council with approximate designs and costs for a splashpad, outdoor rink, and accessible washroom/change room facility. Approved by Council, detailed designs are now in the works.
Since 2013, the Municipality has been working to “revitalize” Riverside Park following requests from residents for “more investment” in the park. In 2019, the Municipality submitted an application for an Investing in Canada Infrastructure grant from the federal government. Though unsuccessful in this application, the Municipality remains committed to revitalizing the park, though more slowly than this grant may have otherwise allowed. Director Guy explained that he is still seeking out grant opportunities and submitting grant applications wherever possible.
Mayor Nancy Peckford called the plans, “accessible and inclusive of all members of our community.”
The planned amenities emerge from consultation with the residents of North Grenville. Some residents have wondered if demographic trends, in which the proportional number of children and youth is going down, warrants amenities such as a splashpad. Citing the community’s use of the Equinelle splashpad, Mayor Peckford said, “demographic data doesn’t actually, in my opinion, bear out what’s actually happening in North Grenville.” She explained that, like some other rural areas in Ontario, North Grenville has seen “surges in demand in terms of young families wanting to locate here, seniors wanting to locate here.” The revitalization of Riverside Park would not just serve the town of Kemptville, but the whole community due to its central location. Mayor Peckford noted that the Equinelle splashpad cannot, alone, serve a community of 18,000. She said, “it behooves us as a growing community to create public spaces that are well suited to all residents of North Grenville.”
Council applauded Director Guy’s design plans for doing just that: offering amenities to children, youth, and adult populations alike. There are plans for a paved walking path around the perimeter of the park, better lighting for the new pickle-ball and tennis courts, and provisions for much needed shaded space near the Kemptville Pool. Furthermore, considerate thought has gone into ensuring year-round use of the park. A possible design element is that the sheltered ice rink can be converted to sheltered space for events in the summer months.
Councillor John Barclay said that it is, “great to be talking about this on concrete terms.” And it seems things will only get more concrete in the months to come. The current estimate for the new amenities, which will be more accurate after the next stage of planning, is $1.7 million. Though this is a large investment, Mayor Peckford called this a, “once in a century” kind of investment: one that would bring traffic to Old Town Kemptville, provide more space for an active lifestyle, and bring the community together.