In June of 2012, city council passed a resolution which looked into the closure of 17 parks at a rate of 2 per year. Fast forward to today, and the City of Windsor is holding a community meeting regarding the closure of both Long and South Tilston parks in west Windsor.
“Whenever we dispose of a park, we hold a public meeting to get comments from the public,” explained Mike Clement, the Manager of Parks Development for the City of Windsor. “Council approved that we move ahead with two of them and start the process … to go out to the public and report back.”
The process that Clement refers to is one which deals with both park acquisitions and dispositions. “If we move and end up selling the park, any funds generated from that sale go into the Parks Reserve Fund, which is a fund specifically for the acquisition of other parks and the improvement of parks.”
West end advocate Fabio Constante opposes the plan to sell the park and his biggest concern is trying to lure families back into an area which has seen its fair share of body blows. “We’ve lost 1/7 families in the last 5-6 years according to a report from the Windsor Star, and our schools are closing as a consequence of declining enrollment … we’re losing families.”
Believing that you cannot lure families back into the area while at the same time closing schools, community centres and parks, Constante explained “these are major factors that a family puts into decision making when moving into an area.”
Constante pointed to the Friend’s for Atkinson Park & Pool who have been able to “not only preserve a park … but increase its user base because they diversified its use.”
By raising money through the private sector – union donations, private individuals, and government grants – the Friend’s of Atkinson Park & Pool have installed a skate-park, a community garden, and a walking path for seniors, and Constante believes that they’ve done a really great job at “diversifying the use of that park so it better conforms with the people that live in the area.”
Only council can decide to keep a park open, and once Parks Development goes to council with their report, that is when council would decide on the matter.
“If we sell one off [a park], that doesn’t mean we can’t use that money in the same area to enlarge another park or to buy a new property for a park,” explained Clement, “it’s a balancing of the system … to see what changes need to be made or if there’s deficiencies in certain areas, how we can solve those deficiencies.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.