KINGSVILLE — Near of the end of the town’s final budget deliberation last week, Coun. Larry Patterson took the unusual step of explaining to the public why two projects would not be funded in 2022.
He wanted Kingsville seniors with accessibility issues to know the proposals — one to pave the 1.1-km path surrounding Ridgeview Park in Cottam, the second to purchase accessibility mats to give people in wheelchairs better access to a local beach — were not dead.
“I think accessibility is one of the hardest things for a councillor to say no to someone,” Patterson told the Kingsville Observer.
“We were unsuccessful this time … but I wanted to get the message out that it’s still on our radar.”
Patterson said the path that rings the ball diamonds and soccer fields at Ridgeview Park is currently covered with recycled crushed asphalt. The surface is compacted but still loose and uneven.
Patterson, who lives in Cottam, said seniors in wheelchairs, or with hip and knee replacements, and mothers pushing strollers find the path tough — and sometimes dangerous — to navigate.
“What’s happening is the seniors are twisting their ankles because it’s unstable. Even people I know who have knee replacements say this would be a great place to get some exercise, but it’s too uncomfortable.”
Patterson estimated it would cost $230,000 to blacktop the path, but said it would be worthwhile.
“I think use of the path would increase by 50 per cent.”
Even though the purchase of accessibility mats for Cedar Beach was turned down, Patterson still sees hope the mats could be installed this year.
He said recreation manager Karen Loney is applying for grants to purchase the mats. The estimated cost is $30,000 and the mats would stretch around 150 feet from the Cedar Beach washrooms to the water’s edge, Patterson said.
If the grant applications fail, Patterson would like to bring community groups and service clubs on-board to help raise the necessary funds.
Patterson said if those funding initiatives fail he will bring back the issue of the mats during the 2023 budget talks if re-elected.
He noted council has to spread out its capital spending.
“We’re trying to do the best we can to make it work for everybody. Either that or we’re going to have a seven per cent tax increase and we’d be run out of town.”
Patterson pointed to Ruthven Park as an example of a project that had been requested by Ruthven residents for many years.
“We didn’t have the population of young children but now we have these new homes. Our development charges (for new subdivisions) are paying for a lot of our parks. So now it’s economical.”
Ruthven Park opened last year in the Queens Valley Estates subdivision.