Manager of facilities and IT R. Wayne Ward said the stability of the picnic shelter was not good. One could move the structure from one side to the other just by pushing on it. Township of Brock photo

MacLeod Park Plan says parks are community focal points, where people can congregate to interact with each other and with the natural environment. However, the park is no longer supporting this statement since the demolition of a picnic shelter without an open communication.

Laurie Waller Benson, a resident of Cannington, said the picnic shelter located in the north of MacLeod Park was donated by the Cannington Lions Club with fundraising done by the people of Cannington and neither were consulted before it was taken down.

“As mayor, I would have to apologize that the community was not consulted on the removal of this. The staff did it in the interest of safety … but there should have been some better consultation or at least notification to the public,” Brock Mayor Walter Schummer said.

According to Benson, people of Cannington believed that the structure will be replaced by a new shelter but there is no construction planned any time soon. Moreover, according to Schummer, the replacement of the structure needs to come within two years from the demolition.

“There’s only about maybe a year left to get it back in if it’s ever going to go back in so, so we’re under a bit of a timeline now,” Schummer said.

R Wayne Ward, Manager Facilities and IT, said that the picnic shelter was identified by the township’s insurer as a concern during a 2021 inspection and because of its condition the township decided to remove the structure for the time being in “the best interest of everybody” and look at it for the 2024 budget.

“We didn’t replace anything in 2023 as we’re going through our recreation master plan and we wanted to ensure that the plan showed that placing another picnic shelter within the same park … would be an appropriate decision from a financial standpoint,” Ward said.

He further explained that the wooden structure had a concrete floor which was in a “very poor condition.”

“It was a trip hazard due to it being broken and lifted in numerous spots. And the stability of the structure itself was not very good. You were able to actually move the structure from one side to the other just by pushing on it,” Ward said.

MacLeod Park is divided by Beaver River and the south side of the park isn’t best in terms accessibility. Schummer said that the south side of the park has a gravel base, offers negligible tree shade, and is located “up on kind of a hill from the rest of the park” which makes it less accessible for people with mobility issues. However, the picnic shelter was located on the same level of ground as the rest of the park making it a viable option.

In a letter to the editor, Benson explained the north side of the park saying, “Parking is right nearby, and wheelchair accessibility was available with a wheelchair accessible Porta-potty. People from the Bon Air Long Term Care Residence could come with caregivers and families on a lovely walk to the park to enjoy a picnic by the river.”

The mayor also being the member of the Cannington Lions Club said that the club was upset that the pavilion was taken down with no consultation.

“The club would just like to measure the public’s consideration … as there seems to be a reasonable amount of public interest in it right now,” he said.

Currently, there are petitions in the town urging the council to rebuild the shelter. People can find and sign the petitions at either Cannington Post Office or at the Thrift Hub building.

Ward 3 Coun. Angela Canavan said, “It’s great when people gather to voice their concern because it’s louder when you have more of them. I would love to see the shelter back too.”

Benson on behalf of Cannington citizens said that the shelter held immense value to the community and asked for help to bring another shelter in the same spot.

By Ojasvini Parashar, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Aug 30, 2023 at 09:23