Parks gone wild: Cornwall grass cutting, outdoor pool among $1.1M in proposed cuts

The west entrance to Guindon Park in Cornwall. A proposed budget cut would see half of the park grow back to a naturalized state, saving the corporation $150,000. Another $100,000 would be saved by reducing cutting by 20 per cent at the balance of city parks. (Cornwall Newswatch/Bill Kingston, File)

Correction: This story has been corrected from an earlier version stating the cuts would save $3 million from the tax base. The actual cuts, if done in their entirety, would amount to $1.1 million through 2018-2019. The actual value of all the services funded by the tax base is $3 million.

CORNWALL – Allowing sections of Cornwall parks to grow back wild, closing an outdoor pool and shoveling your own sidewalk in winter are among $1.1 million in cuts for the budget committee to consider Friday.

The city is facing a 7.3 per cent budget increase and, with a 4 per cent target in mind, the budget committee has to find $2.5 million.

A report to the committee has updated revenue and funding projections, realizing another $612,706.

But the bigger pill for committee members to swallow will be tackling “possible items for consideration” – non-essential services, but ones the public will no doubt experience first-hand if approved.

Under the proposed cuts, only half the grass at Guindon Park would be cut and the manicured footprint of all city parks would be reduced by 20 per cent, saving the corporation $75,000.

The city has five outdoor pools. Closing one of them would save $90,000, according to the budget report.

Summer opportunities for students would also be numbered. A proposal to eliminate seven positions, leaving 31 student jobs, would save $70,000.

Here’s a list of the other proposed cuts and how much they will save:

  • Reducing landscaping at the Rotary Traffic Circle by half ($12,500)
  • Flooding and maintenance of outdoor ice rinks by volunteers ($30,000)
  • Floral displays ($40,000)
  • Reducing services at the civic complex arena (to be determined)
  • Reduction in service at Big Ben ($77,271)
  • Cutting museum hours in 2019 ($30,000)
  • Reduce Handi-Transit service by eight hours ($82,000)
  • Eliminate community bus service route ($95,000)
  • Eliminate sidewalk snow removal except for main roads ($100,000)
  • Reduce snow removal in downtown areas ($150,000)
  • Half the contribution to the Brownfield program by half ($246,736)
  • No meals for city council committee lunch meetings ($20,000)
  • City land sales (to be reviewed)

If all the cuts were put in place, it would save taxpayers $1,151,236. The adjustment to some of these services would spread over this year and 2019.

The city’s budget committee meets tomorrow (Friday) at 9 a.m. at city hall.