Wednesday , 4 August 2021

Role of Parks and Recreation Board to be discussed further

The Town of St. Paul will continue a discussion about the role and composition of the Parks and Recreation Board at a later date after Coun. Brad Eamon moved to table the discussion at the Mar. 8 council meeting.

The conversation was initially sparked by town administration bringing forward a policy that clarifies the role of the Parks and Recreation Board as laid out in the by-law.

It states the council would no longer consider capital recreation projects without a recommendation from the board. A board recommendation would also be needed for things like neighbourhood ice rinks and park upgrades.

Coun. Nathan Taylor asked whether council would still have the opportunity to give input and make the decisions, or if the bulk of it would be deferred to the Parks and Recreation Board.

According to CAO Kim Heyman, council would still be making the decision but for things like capital projects proposed by user groups of the town facilities, the board would be able to make a recommendation “based on the age of the existing equipment.”

She said increased involvement from the Parks and Recreation Board would allow more of the work to be done ahead of an item being presented to council for a decision. Often when council has questions about current equipment or history of a group, the item is ultimately deferred for some length of time while administration gathers that information.

Coun. Brad Eamon asked if the parks and rec board meetings are open and accessible to the public and how ground-level initiatives make their way to the board for discussion.

According to Heyman, the town doesn’t currently stream those meetings, or most of their committee meetings “just because of the expense of it all.”

She suggested beginning with an education campaign on Facebook encouraging people to bring their concerns to the director of parks and recreation two or three days before the meeting in order to make sure it gets on the agenda.

Eamon asked if the discussion could be tabled because he did not have a clear idea of whether he wanted to approve the policy or not. Eamon noted that when he looks at the current structure of the rec board, he believes it needs to be restructured.

“We have an Ag Society member sitting on the board. We have no other voices for minor hockey, gymnastics, or any other user groups but somehow we have an Ag Society member,” said Eamon.

He also wanted to know how the County of St. Paul fits with the St. Paul Parks and Recreation Board, noting they have three members on the board “that don’t even live in this community but they’re going to be having to say on our parks, our recreation, and our skating rinks.”

Council voted to table the discussion so more information could be brought back to council.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.