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As tender is awarded, Arkell residents have new concerns about Boreham Park

Puslinch council awards tender for Arkell park's renovation, hope to have it up and running this summer

ARKELL– As construction is set to start on Boreham Drive Park, a local resident's group still feels Puslinch council has not done enough to address their concerns surrounding health and accessibility. 

While the Concerned Citizens of Puslinch are supportive of having a park and the idea of future renovations, they remain concerned council hasn't taken the proper safety measures to address the exposed storm water ditches that line the entirety of Boreham Drive and frame the park itself.

On Wednesday council awarded the tender for the renovations to the park. 

The citizens group has expressed several concerns in the past. Wednesday they expressed concerns about potential pathogens in stormwater collected close to the park.

“For anybody who knows anything about stormwater, it’s like (you can test the water) but the pathogens will be in there,” said Bruce Taylor, a member of the group, in an interview. “You don’t need a special case like cows to pollute a park…(the polluted water) all comes down from the ditches and into where children play.” 

Surrounded by ditches on three sides, the proposed playground would sit 10 to 12 feet away from where the storm drains run into the street. 

In a notice posted by the committee in the park and to local community boards by Taylor on Wednesday, the committee claimed "the storm water in the ditches of Boreham Park can be a contributor for bacterial or viral illnesses, which poses high risks to pregnant folk, children, and seniors." 

Taylor is concerned that the risks will only increase as children and dogs play near the water.

None of these issues were mentioned during Wednesday’s council meeting, with each councillor taking a moment to celebrate bringing the renovated “fully accessible park” park to the build stage.

“I’m fully in support of this project. Getting this particular area completely done properly has been a long time coming … seeing it finally come to fruition is really great,” said Coun. John Sepulis. “I’d like to suggest we put up a sign saying ‘coming to you, Boreham Park, a fully-accessible playground.”

Mayor James Seeley was one of the most vocal on his support of the project, specifically citing that while the ongoing Puslinch Community Centre park project is a large project, Boreham Park is “very important” to him and he “(doesn’t) want to see it take a backseat to the work done at the other park.”

“I would really like to see that Boreham Park be used this season, not opened in the fall if at all possible,” said Seeley. “Land is hard to come by in the township, it’s very expensive, you know, the more we can utilize what we have, I feel that’s great for the community.” 

However, Seeley had his own questions about Boreham Park's frequent moisture and how it may interfere with future expansions.  

“I took a walk up through that property, a week or so ago, (to brainstorm) other potential uses for the park…but 'it was quite wet in one corner,'” said Seeley. "(Will there be any issues) if we wanted to say put, a huge soccer field or something of that nature in that back green space?” 

Mike Fowler, director of public works, parks, and facilities, said that contractors could potentially build up the land to minimize moisture but without the proper soil tests, this is unknown. 

“Until some soil testing is done to determine if we do have an active spring in that back corner, due to the consistent wet conditions up until July and August, would have to be completed,” said Fowler. “The recommendation would probably be the green space would have to be built up to accommodate (something like a youth soccer field)."

He also mentioned that if council were to approve another venue within the park, they would have to “seriously consider coming up with parking solutions," in addition to water-removing technology. 

“(We would have to) look into technology that will push the wetness away into the already established sewer ditches,” said Fowler. “That would have to be explored a little more to see if it would be advantageous to haul and fill, to build up the land…but again, none of this has been explored yet so it’s all hypothetical at this point.”

But Taylor and the rest of the committee maintain they already know what will happen. 

“A soccer field in Lake Arkell, now that’ll be a little wet,” said Taylor. 

Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.

About the Author: Isabel Buckmaster, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Isabel Buckmaster covers Wellington County under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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