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Park land improvements move to 2024 budget talks

Queen Elizabeth Park, on Hill Street, Picton overlooks the harbour

Proposals to improve parks in the County will be coming forward for 2024 budget talks.

Council received a report showing a balance of $786,447 in the Cash-in-Lieu of Parkland Reserve Fund as of Dec. 31, 2022. A new requirement by the province states municipalities must spend 60 per cent of their parkland funds within a year of acquiring them.

Under the Planning Act, a municipality can require land, or where the land is not available or suitable, the option of money in lieu at the time of severance, subdivision or site plans.

The County started to collect Cash-in-Lieu of Parkland in 1999 and since collected $953,693. It spent $230,952 on improvements to parks in Picton, Sophiasburgh, Wellington and Athol.

As examples the fund has spent $99,320 in Picton from 2003 to 2022 on the grounds, a sprinkler system on the soccer fields, ball diamond lighting and the harbour trail.

In Sophiasburgh, $16,775 was spent in 2011 on the Northport Park; and in Wellington, $108,020 went toward debt servicing. In South Marysburgh, $12,000 was spent at Mount Tabor and in Athol, $6,837 was spent to acquire land for the Glendon Green Boat Launch walkway.

Staff recommend funds continue to be disbursed in the area from where they were collected and to be used to create new parks, outdoor spaces or purchase new equipment. Funds cannot be used to replace existing assets but can be used to enhance services, or naturalization.

The balance of the parkland reserve fund at Dec. 31, 2023 is estimated to be $625,630, of which $375,378 represents the 60 per cent that must be spent according to the Planning Act.

In September, council saw plans for a premier Benson Park, a phase of which will also be part of 2024 budget considerations.

Council to consider bigger price to play for Benson Park renewal project

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