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Residents fear plan amendment would allow commercial development at Field of Dreams

The people responsible for baseball at Wellington’s Field of Dreams are pleased council has put off amending the Wellington Secondary Plan – which they fear leaves an opening to move the town’s biggest park across the street to a ‘hub’ at the Community Centre property, and make way for commercial development on the current parkland.

Matthew Ronan and John and Jane Allison all expressed to council their concern that the wording of “creation of a recreational hub” in the secondary plan would lead to closure of the three baseball diamonds, batting cage, tennis courts and green-space without proper consultation from the public and full transparency.

“Zoning a park for commercial use is not the County way,” noted Ronan. “Not all growth is good for our community.”

He stated he was appalled there was no engagement with the baseball group, adding more than 200 youth play baseball and hardball, along with participants in pickleball and tennis. He also noted the many years of effort, fundraising and maintenance put into the park by volunteers.

The Allisons added that the land was donated and the first diamond was in place in 1970. “Not allowing public input is shady,” he stated.

In September 2020, council put an Interim Control Bylaw into place to freeze development while it reviewed current land use policies. There were public meetings held and submissions invited to the municipality’s ‘Have Your Say’ page online. Participation rate of that is unknown.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, municipal staff were recommending council approve amending the plan “based on re-routing traffic, heritage preservation, public realm improvements, employment and commercial land relocation and the creation of a recreational hub” and to have a draft of proposed amendments presented in December.

Michael Michaud, manager of planning, attempted to clarify the amendment related to recreation was “a small update on thought process and land uses. Nothing is solid, but it gives the opportunity to create the hub”, adding the County’s Master Recreation plan is also still underway.

Noting there should be more input from the community, beyond the municipality’s Have Your Say online forum, councillor Brad Nieman proposed the motion to defer any amendments to the plan to the next available committee of the whole meeting to allow in-depth discussion by council and for public feedback.

In a 7-6 recorded vote, the report is now expected to come to a Committee of the Whole meeting in January 2022. Click here to see the report 

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