Why Parks and Recreation Matter…

Why Parks and Recreation Matter…

Parks and recreation are essential contributors to community quality of life and the health of our residents.  More than just a frill, the parks and recreation systems make a difference to the lives of our citizens.  While every community in Ontario is unique, I believe that there are core goals that our communities must work towards to ensure that the fundamental rights of their citizens are met.

Everyone has a right to have affordable access to safe and desirable parks, and sport and recreation facilities and programs within our own community. In a recent report published by Parks and Recreation Ontario, the estimated sport and recreation infrastructure deficit in Ontario is $5 billion.  The impact in our small community could be potentially devastating, where infrastructure funds are limited.

During the last four years as Mayor, I am very happy to report that King has been able to go against the trend. With over $350,000 raised from the annual Mayor’s Golf Tournament and prudent allocations from the Township’s annual budgets we have been able to:

  • build the King City Skatepark and Outdoor Ball Hockey Court
  • re-build the Dr. William Laceby Nobleton Cmmunity Centre and Arena ice surface
  • re-develop the Nobleton Upper baseball diamond
  • build a new full-size soccer field and playground at Rafferty’s Corners Park
  • build a new playground at Dean Plummer Park and at Hickstead Memorial Park
  • re-build the playground at Pottageville Park
  • added senior specific programs like Pickleball to our regular Parks and Recreation calendar

King residents are more concerned than ever with environmental issues. They also greatly value parks, open spaces and high quality recreation facilities as important components of a vibrant, livable community. Protecting our open spaces will ensure that King maintains and develops healthier, appealing and environmentally sustainable community. An obesity epidemic is sweeping the province and we are now living and working in communities that contribute to obesity. Obesity has been linked to some cancers, type-2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. For the first time, our children’s life expectancy could be shorter than their parents. All the while, health care costs continue to outpace inflation and population growth. In Ontario, health care is projected to account for over 50% of the budget in just 10 to 15 years.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) recognizes the rights of children to engage in play and recreational activities, cultural life and the arts. Studies by Dr. Gina Browne show that participating in sport and recreation programs has a positive effect on children. Recreation builds self-esteem, creates opportunities for social inclusion, and reduces individual and collective isolation.

I believe that every citizen in King has a right to benefit from:

•           Participation:  Participating in quality safe affordable recreation

•           Active Living:  Being physically active

•           Access to Nature & the Outdoors:  Having access to natural environments and open spaces within their communities

•           Enriching Experiences:  Being able to experience arts, culture, heritage, sports and recreation

•           A Welcoming & Inclusive Community:  Being included in activities that build strong communities, engaged citizens and healthy family life

Over the last 4 years we have worked hard to ensure every citizen has access to these benefits. We have:

  • completed the Parks, Recreation and Culture Master Plan in 2013
  • created a partnership with Arts Society King to enhance prgramming and operating hours at the King Township Museum
  • partnered with King United Soccer Club for the re-development of King Bible Church Field
  • partnered with the King City Business and Community Association to host Christmas in King City
  • completed the first King Township Museum Strategic Plan
  • developed Terms of Reference for the newly established Community Museum Board
  • created the Township’s first Ice Allocation Policy
  • formalized the Township’s Community Assistance Program and Policy

But it does not stop there. In the next 4 years I want to  ensure that we are able to:

  • develop the Township’s first Trails Master Plan
  • develop the Cold Creek Conservation Area Strategic Plan
  • develop the Township’s first Park Development Guidelines
  • construct the Township’s first Splash Pad at Hickstead Memorial Park
  • re-develop the Davis Park playground
  • develop a nature lookout at the Trisan Centre
  • develop the Township’s first Energy Management and Conservation Plan
  • restore and expand the Nobleton Outdoor Pool

I am proud to say that, in King Township, we have a wealth of parks, recreation and culture opportunities that enrich all of our lives. I will continue to make it a priority over the next 4 years.