Highland Gate Park Design….

Tom Mrakas


In response to my post I have been contacted by the President of the ratepayers group who felt the discussion surrounding the motion before council re the park could be misconstrued and has requested clarification. Specifically that the minutes of settlement were the result of two years of work by the ratepayers group to obtain the best result possible. To open the minutes of settlement would therefore put two years of work and results obtained in jeopardy. Thus the reason why the group is not amenable to opening the minutes of settlement to alter the park design.

The July 4th General Committee meeting was interesting as we had before us a motion to approve the conceptual park design for the Highland Gate development. Residents should note that the conceptual park design was approved during the signing of the OMB minutes of settlement on December 1st 2016 and any changes would require all 3 parties (The Town, The Ratepayers, and The Developer) to agree to reopening the minutes of settlement to allow for amendments. Council was informed during delegations from the Ratepayers and the developer that both are opposed to reopening the minutes of settlement. Therefore, as I stated during the meeting,I felt that the motion in front of Council was not in order. Council can only act on matters that are within their authority or control. Given that both the Ratepayers and the Developer made clear that they are not amenable to opening the minutes of settlement, how can Council approve or oppose something that we have no authority to do so? Though the Clerk did agree with me, Council none the less debated the motion.

This is just one more step in a process that has been very frustrating, to me at least. With respect to the park, residents have stated that they don’t want lights on the trail. The Trails Committee unanimously voted to remove the lighting on the trails within the design. And yet, we, as a Council cannot act on the recommendations of residents and council committees as the minutes of settlement require all three parties to agree to any changes to the plan, and two of the parties are not amenable to any changes.

So where does that leave this park? Where it began. The conceptual design plan that was before council at GC last evening is the same plan that was approved during the minutes of settlement on Dec 1, 2016 and will be what the Town will receive when this park is configured.

This is disappointing.

I am glad that the province has introduced Bill 139 which outlines significant changes to the OMB – most important of which is providing municipalities with greater authority over land-use planning decisions. With the proposed changes, going forward, municipal Councils will have greater say in how they community grows. As I have always said – and continue to say – it is not about having no development, it is about having appropriate development; development that benefits our community as identified in our Official Plan.

With respect to the motion before Council last evening that spoke to the conceptual park design, the clauses were called separately and 2 amendments were added – one to remove the exercise workstations and one to remove the picnic tables. These items were not part of the Minutes of Settlement and were the only elements of the design that Council actually had the authority to make a decision concerning. The two amendments passed and the clause to approve the design passed 6 – 3 (Councillors Humfryes, Thom and myself opposed). This will be in front of Council next week to be ratified and I will call for a recorded vote.

Here is what I said at the table…

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3 Responses

  1. As a nearby citizen living on Brookland Avenue I must admit I have not reviewed or closely followed the proposed Highland Gate park plan. However, the concept of have sturdy weather-proof work out equipment is a good idea I personally support. Up in Newmarket about 300 meters north of Water Street they have a multi-station workout pad that is quite a useful concept. The sturdy Calastentic wokout units are made by reputable Paris Playground Equipment, an Ontario based manufacturer. Each unit works on a balanced resistance concept. And the surrounding pad area is paved with a nice beaded rubberized surface. It’s a good way to supplement some brisk walkway exercise. In Aurora’s case I think directly abutting residents may be opposed, believing the workout units might become an attractor to adolescent hang-outs or nuisance evening loitering. Newmarket could possibly comment on that, but I was somewhat disappointed to hear a similar thing may have already been voted down re the Highland Park plan. And in regards to wakway lighting (yeah or ney) are there more incidents of late-night loitering that happen on full-moon nights?

  2. We have a place near Clearwater Beach in Florida. The park beside our home is one of the main reasons we picked the area. The park pathways are gently lit at night and there is plenty of garbage cans available to people in the park. There is also markings on the paved walkways to indicate mileage for joggers. There also is an Exercise area which is frequented by young people middle-age people and seniors unlike. I am always pleased to see the exercise equipment being used especially by the seniors who all take pride in staying young down there! I can honestly say patrons of the park enjoy and respect the amenities it provides including plenty of picnic areas. With respect to Aurora I can only say that we need a park like this somewhere that people can enjoy , share with others, and respect all the while feeling safe. I for one would have a hard time enjoying the area if it was not lit at dusk or during the night. I guess the question is…is it there just for optics or do you actually want people to use it?

  3. Don’t forget to make the trail accessible following AODA with a max slope of 1:20.

    If the trail is expected to be used at night, then lights might be an accessibility aid to those with poor vision.

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