Elmira Independent Editorial
If ever there was a good use for infrastructure funding, this was it.
At the Aug. 6 committee-of-the-whole meeting, Woolwich councillors approved the use of the infrastructure reserve fund, to the tune of $206,229, to help cover the expected costs in upgrading Conestogo Park.
It’s about time.
Anyone who has tried to use the park, with its crumbling tennis courts, for anything other than a picnic or a baseball game, has been out of luck for several years.
It’s aging, crumbling infrastructure was even starting to pose a safety risk, which is why volunteers from the Robin in the Hood Festival were deputed to make some “risk-management” repairs.
The upgrades, when completed, will leave the village of Conestogo with a multi-use court that can be used for basketball and ball hockey, and can also be converted to a ice rink during the winter months — essentially making it a year-round sports pad. In addition, the park will have a brand-new tennis court, something that has been lacking for years.
It’s a good use for the special infrastructure fund, which councillors established as a means of dealing with the township’s incredibly large infrastructure deficit — $63 million, at last count.
However, there are countless other places within the township that this money could be used, given the need within the municipality.
And that is why, once again, we will remind our readers of the paltry 0.5 per cent that this township set aside for the infrastructure levy earlier this year — an amount that only brought in $35,000 for infrastructure needs.
It was a drop in the bucket compared to what is actually needed to deal with the many pressing needs within the municipality. Anyone who has driven many of the roads in our settlement areas, or visited community parks other than Elmira’s fantastic playground, Kate’s Place for Everyone, will know how great the need is. And that’s just the infrastructure we can see. There is plenty more under the ground that needs upgrades and repairs, including aging water and wastewater pipes (some of them lead-lined).
And while it is great to see playgrounds like Kate’s Place get developed within our communities, the township cannot continue to rely on the bulk of its infrastructure improvements to come because of the efforts of a few driven and committed individuals.
Council is going to have to make some hard decisions on its own — and not rely solely on potential funding from a casino that may or may not make its home in Woolwich Township.
Budget talks will be starting this fall, with a chance for the public to have their say at public input sessions set for this September and October.
It would be a timely opportunity to remind our elected representatives that they are here not just to deal with the needs of today, but to also plan for the future.