Damage control over South Dundas parks

In this February 2016, file photo, South Dundas Mayor Evonne Delegarde speaks during a county council meeting in Cornwall, Ont. The mayor is trying to do damage control over South Dundas parks, identified for possible sale after a special council meeting in April. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

MORRISBURG – South Dundas Mayor Evonne Delegarde was in damage control mode Tuesday night over the possible sale of a number of township parks.

Reading from a prepared statement, Delegarde said “following the many conversations at the trade show, emails and a petition, misinformation and assumptions were made regarding the future of several of these properties.”

To date, “absolutely no decisions have been made” and that there will be an extensive review before a final decision, the mayor added.

The recommendations came from a special council meeting April 11, described by Delegarde as a “roundtable meeting,” where 47 properties were identified and recommendations for their future were tied to each one.

That included the possible sale of Steward Drive Park in Morrisburg, Loyalist Park on County Road 4, Duncan Park in Mariatown, Coyle Drive Park in Morrisburg and Haldane Park in Iroquois.

Aside from the parks, the 47 properties on the list include a mix of vacant land, a lagoon, road allowances and former municipal works buildings. The township is trying to figure out what to do with them in the “municipal property review” – a task the mayor called a “long overdue process.”

During the council discussion Tuesday, Coun. Archie Mellan felt the parks could be immediately pulled from the list, ending any debate about their future.

But other councillors felt that all the properties should be reviewed to verify their history and doing so wouldn’t be a fait accompli on their future.

“I know I keep repeating but, whatever the concept is, I’d like to see a park remain on Coyle Drive,” Coun. Marc St. Pierre said.

St. Pierre also noted that he had received “quite a few emails” about Duncan Park and believed the site had actually had enhancements to help the scuba diving community. His remark drew a burst of applause from the eight or nine people in the audience – a gallery that is usually almost empty.

Speaking about the 14 acre Haldane Park in Iroquois, Coun. Archie Mellan said it was “imperative” to talk to the Legion first about the staff proposal to have the cenotaph moved.

Instead of leaving Haldane for the economic development officer (EDO) to investigate, Coun. St. Pierre said he really wanted to know the history of Haldane from municipal staff because he’s “just not comfortable” giving it up to possible urban or real estate development.

“I can’t stress enough that all the properties, all the information, will be completely researched and brought back to council with several options for each as the case may be,” Mayor Delegarde said at the conclusion of the review.

A full report on the investigations by staff and the EDO will be coming back to a future council meeting.

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