With their term winding down, Meaford's council is planning to revisit the wording in the recently approved Parks Use Bylaw in order to address concerns of residents.
At the November 5 council meeting, Councillor Tony Bell brought a notice of motion seeking to revisit the bylaw. In the notice of motion, which was unanimously supported by council, direction was given to staff to “bring forward a revised park use by-law for Council’s consideration, changing the winter closure of parks to a period where parks will be unmaintained; and that staff also be directed to bring forward a report outlining the staffing, financial, legal and liability implications of said change to the parks use by-law.”
Most concerning to residents who have voiced opinions on the bylaw approved by council at their September 24 meeting is Section 3.2 of Bylaw 2018-68, which states that “Parks shall be closed for the season from November 1st to April 20th annually”.
Bell noted in his notice of motion that Meaford's parks have never been maintained over the winter months, and have operated as three season facilities, and he suggested that the language used in the bylaw could be modified in order to address residents' concerns, and to bring clarity to the intent of the bylaw.
In the notice of motion Bell asked that, “Council direct staff to bring forward a revised park use by-law for Council’s consideration, changing the winter closure of parks to a period where parks will be unmaintained.”
“What we have been listening to is that the folks believe that the premises are completely banned, and that they should be charged, and that we don't want them around the parks, and yet what we are really talking about here is changing the terminology to a notice,” Bell told council after introducing his notice of motion.
Bell found support for his notice of motion from his fellow council members, some of whom also had issues with some of the language included in the bylaw.
“Thank you, Councillor Bell, I really appreciate your comments, and I certainly agree with you, I would like to see the word 'closed' eliminated in this bylaw,” offered Councillor Shirley Keaveney, who also expressed concern over the use of the words 'trespass' and 'loiter' used in the bylaw.
“Loiter really speaks to what you do in a park because you go there to relax and enjoy yourself, you might sit on a bench and enjoy the view, so 'loiter' doesn't seem appropriate to me,” suggested Keaveney.
Municipal staff will prepare a report and revised bylaw for council's consideration at their November 19 meeting.