First the Bus Issue.
In reviewing the budget survey we note that Bus Route #25 providing morning and evening service to the Clarkson Go Train station may be eliminated. Unfortunately, the budget background documentation that you have to consider only reflects 2009 ridership. Oakville Transit has confirmed that ridership for 2010 on the route is actually up 12% over 2009.
This is a promising trend and we only ask that any action to eliminate service be deferred to assess if this increase continues. This bus only operates during prime rush hour and is an important part of reducing reliance on cars to get to the Go station which at Clarkson is beyond capacity!
We understand one of the challenges riders have is connecting with the 6 pm train leaving Union Station and therefore miss the final 6:40 bus out of Clarkson Station. Some are forced to have family pick them up but others opt out of transit altogether for this reason. The elimination of this route would result in a significantly less convenient service for riders, put more cars on the road, and exacerbate an already intolerable parking situation. Improvements to this route, on the other hand, could make a significant difference.
We ask that should a decision be made to move forward with cuts, that prior to finalizing that decision, JCRA and the local residents be given the opportunity to make suggestions on potential route changes within the neighbourhood or transit scheduling to provide fair access to GO service to Clarkson. Together, I believe we can find creative ways to provide service without the loss of the route and in the process increase ridership, which has to be a goal of the Town.
Let me know turn to our second issue and begin with acknowledging recent Parks and Recreation efforts.
- We congratulate the Town in providing great facilities in Sixteen Mile Sports Complex We understand that a further investment in a Sixteen Mile creek is planned for by 2018 including a community centre, soccer fields, BMX park and more. These will be an integral part of the north Oakville community. As well we support the Town’s recent investment in QEW Park facilities and know it will certainly revitalize the most Southwestern part of Oakville.
- Last year we reminded you that early drafts of the 2006 Parks and Recreational plan – some five years ago – noted there was a significant lack of community services below the QEW.
- This map illustrates where the community centres are in Oakville. As you can see the area from Kerr to Winston Churchill below the QEW does not have ONE community centre or facility that comes even close to what is at River Oaks, Iroquois Ridge, Glen Abbey or the new QE Park.
- To make the situation worse, the JCRA community will lose its local elementary school (Chisholm PS) this year, CMGRA has lost Linbrook and TCRA has lost Brantwood.
o With the closure of schools we lose meeting places for after school activities, resident association meetings, fitness or wellness program, basketball nets, baseball diamonds and places for pick up football,
- Did you know our area does not have any facility for senior activities, except for the churches?
People from our neighbourhoods must drive great distances to other parts of Oakville for fitness facilities; the QEW provides a barrier to walking or bicycling to the facilities in north east Oakville.
In a broader context, our Ward is also facing significant decisions on the use of the Hospital Lands, Centennial Square revitalization, the use of school lands and the needs of Downtown. It is our hope that our repeated requests for a comprehensive vision that incorporates these lands is completed sooner rather than later and most importantly options are discussed with the community in a transparent, participatory manner.
How the town will best use its resources to capitalize on these opportunities is a concern for many of us. There are certain to be diverse views, The decision making process needs to be structured so that decisions are not made in silos but rather with a comprehensive view of how facilities, culture, land use and development will work together to address needs of the Ward and Town.
There is significant concern in the JCRA community that money to support the acquisition of lands or to invest in community facilities below the QEW in the Southeast is NOT in the budget. We are deeply concerned and amazed that there are no notations in the future 2011- 2013 budget plan for projections to build or refurbish a facility such as a multi-generational community centre.
It is the opinion of the residents of JCRA, who I represent, that it is time to turn attention and priorities to the South Eastern sector of the community and invest in a multi-generational facility in Ward 3, for the many reasons just listed.
The Parks and Recreation Master plan states that a population base of 45,000 people is to be used for building a community centre. While we understand the need for a benchmark, this may not apply directly in the case of the proposed multi-generational community centre where a larger percentage of the community will potentially use the facility. Rather than assume that the private clubs are the destination of choice for fitness, wellness and community activities, we believe you need to consider that target as an opportunity to have greater membership and support of a local community centre especially if it is multi-generational. Private clubs meet only a small percentage of the population’s needs. Local community memberships are at significantly less expensive, provide community connections and will reduce excessive driving from the South to the North and West all day every day!
A further reason to invest in a community centre in South East Oakville is the targeted growth of the MidTown core. With that planned development, we may easily meet the benchmark of 45,000 within the next few years.
Let me highlight for you the cost of a membership at a community centre: The ORC charges 1029 not including a 200 enrollment fee, the Y charges for a similar membership 668 and the Town of Oakville charges 435. You are discussing in your budget survey cuts that would save $30 on our tax bill but the difference between a Town Community centre and a private facility are significantly greater and provide community connections.
In summary, we ask that you add to the Budget recommendation this year a notation to earmark funds to purchase and build a community centre in the South Eastern part of Town. This ensures fairness in access to Town community centres. This recommendation would provide a measure of assurance that the money to fund the project is being planned for.
We encourage you as members of council to see a vision of Oakville beyond your own Wards to the importance of services being fairly provided to all parts of Oakville, both new neighbourhoods and the old ones alike. We urge you to champion and make these important financial decisions this year so that we can address these needs prior to taking on the Hospital Debt but most importantly because it is the fair and right decision.