By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A proposed Lakes subdivision playground will go ahead as planned despite some opposition to its placement. Council Chambers were packed Sept. 10 with residents, parents and children eager to hear what Council would decide based on four presentations for and against the development.
Lakes resident Brandy Keenleyside has lived in the subdivision for five years and said she wanted to have the playground relocated. Speaking on behalf of other residents, she expressed the opinion those who built on the municipal reserve lands were of the belief it would stay a green space.
The Lakes resident said she believes there was no opposition when the decision was made June 25 because the original location was to be in the northwest corner of the green space. “They’re concerned mostly for the noise, the vandalism at night, the disruption to their daily lives,” she said, adding most who live on the lake would not use the playground.
Lakes resident Chuck Whitmeyer was also opposed to the park location because of its proximity to a pipeline right of way and its proximity to a steep incline to an open body of water. Beyond the situational concerns, Whitmeyer said he was upset no one was notified the park was going forward. “The 19 affected homeowners were never notified formally of this,” he said. “I never received a letter. The Town knows my address. I pay my taxes. Please give me a letter and let me know what is going on.”
Like Keenleyside, Whitmeyer said he was not opposed to a park, only where the park was located. He asked for it to be moved 300 metres to the west as those affected by the location want to enjoy the green space as is. “People fly kites, play ball with their kids, do what they want. That’s great. I don’t want a playground right behind me,” he sid. “We were all young once and know that playgrounds sometimes at night attract nefarious activities – underage drinking, drug use, stuff like that.” Whitmeyer said he paid a premium to live in the Lakes and to back onto the green space.
But not everyone who spoke Sept. 10 was opposed to the park’s location. Two residents came forward in support of the development.
Darren Brenneis said he felt there was already plenty of noise from families on the lake who use the space. “I’m going to back right on that park and I already hear families jumping on trampolines on either side of my house. I hear the kids playing already. The noise level is going to change very minimal,” he said, adding he felt the bad activity feared in the park was unlikely. “I’ve lived there for about five years and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone by my house, let alone any bad activity.”
Nicki Rudland shared Brenneis’ viewpoint and said she currently has to take her daughters 15 or 20 minutes away to play in a park. Additionally, as two of the parks are located at schools, it is difficult to schedule playtime during the day around school recess and lunch times. “When you are 15 to 20 minutes away there is nowhere for them to go to the bathroom, you are far away from home, its, cold and it’s difficult,” Rudland said. “Parks are safe places for kids to play. Parks are positive things. It’s ridiculous that I’m even standing here.”
Rudland said there are many young families living in the community and that a park was desirable to them. She’d like to see one larger than the 17 metre by 13 metre park the Town is building, but is pleased the Town is committing to at least that. “It’s beautiful in the picture and it’s not going to be loud. It’s targeted at an age group between five and 12,” she said. “It’s not hidden behind trees, so you are not going to see drug users in a park that is camouflaged. It’s in the open so you are not going to have any of these activities that people are pulling out of their pockets to use as ammunition to keep it away.”
Deputy Mayor Gordon Boddez said the matter of a park at the Lakes had been going on since at least 2009 and the time had come to get on with it. “I know in every area you get the feeling of anywhere but in my backyard,” he said. “This a recurring theme that you get all the time. Somewhere the amenities have to be placed.” The mayor went on to say the proposed park was a small park designed for young children in the immediate community that would not attract undesirable activity. “It’s not going to bring in a hundred cars,” he said. “It’s going to bring in local people that will walk to the area.” Boddez ended by saying the park would proceed as planned. “This Council made a decision June 25 to proceed with a small park in the Lakes area, and it is going to stick to that decision.”
Council approved spending more than $132,250 on a playground for the subdivision June 25. The vote, opposed at the time by Councillors David Pattison and Gordon Boddez, was the culmination of an earlier motion made in May by Deputy Mayor Lisa Holmes to find $100,000 to kick-start a park there. The ground breaking for the new park will be held Monday.