Archive for category MPNA Business

Landscaping of McBurney Park

New sod has been laid beside the sidewalks in McBurney Park, and improvements made to the basketball court.

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Clarifications re. the PARC process from Councillor Rob Hutchison.

Letter from Councillor Rob Hutchison to McBurney Park Neighbourhood Association Coordinator Anne Lougheed,

Regarding the current elementary and secondary PARC process that is ongoing would you please circulate the following and/or post it on the Skeleton Park website/blog. I have been receiving communications that appear to be based on a misperception of the powers of the City and City councillors regarding the PARC issue.

* The unfortunate fact of the matter is this: the City cannot tell the school board what to do; the school board operates under the province in its own jurisdiction. Technically then, the City has no more standing in front of the PARC than any other citizen or organization. Hopefully, the City’s intangible resources of having responsibility for municipal governance and public opinion will have a positive effect on the decisions of the PARC and the school board.

* Nevertheless, as your Councillor I have been working on this issue for a long time. About three years ago, as a member of KEDCO, I saw this issue of potential school closings coming and the potential effect on neighbourhoods and downtown economic development and I had KEDCO send a letter to the school boards pointing out how important this issue was. The letter was not as strong as I would have wanted, but, frankly, it was difficult to interest KEDCO and, in general, people in the issue at the time.

* Last July, 2011 I helped initiate and volunteered to be Council’s appointment to the elementary PARC. (Please note: Some councillors think that the City should not be involved in the PARC process even at the level of advocacy; I disagreed then and I do now.) Fortunately, the motion still passed.

* What Council and I did not understand was that the PARC meetings are held almost without exception on Tuesday nights. With other meeting conflicts, this has made it difficult for myself in particularly and a number of other councillors to attend meetings.

* I asked the PARC if any of the meeting dates could be moved, but Wednesdays and Thursdays are heavy dates for school trustees and such changes were deemed not workable.

* On more than one occasion I have raised this scheduling problem with Council and asked if another Councillor could attend meetings. No one volunteered – perhaps because of similar scheduling issues as above. Coun. Jeff Scott has volunteered to be the secondary school PARC rep.

* Nevertheless, I read all the material available and, at the request of the Central Public School parent representatives, I skipped most of a Council Budget meeting on November 22/12 to present the City’s position to the PARC. The PARC report stated that the Central parents’ claim that closing the school would harm the neighbourhood and businesses in the area and downtown was (in the report’s words) “anecdotal”. I pointed out that the City had invested a great deal of time and money in the Official Plan and its Sustainability Plan and the need for intensification, densification and sustainable downtown neighbourhoods and businesses and that this position was not “anecdotal” but supported by a great deal of research and strategic planning. Interestingly, the DBIA has recently made a very similarly argued report to the PARC, as have a number of citizens.

* Since then I have worked with Coun. Glover [Sydenham] on a motion coming out of the Near Campus Neighbourhood Advisory Committee to have the City report on its concerns about the issue of school closings in the downtown to the elementary and secondary PARCs. Although there was some councillor opposition (primarily as being outside the City’s jurisdiction or being unnecessary), those councillors like myself who argued that this issue was too important to take a ‘hands-off’ approach managed to carry the day. Hopefully, the report will be forthcoming in May or June in time for submission.

* I believe I can say with some confidence that, along with Coun. Glover, and the more recent support of a couple of downtown councillors, the issue of downtown school closings would not have been on the City’s radar without my efforts and, without my support along with others including the egging on of parents and citizens, the City would probably not be involved to any degree.

* It is the school trustees who need to be lobbied; they are the local representatives who have the actual power along with the provincial government to effect changes on this issue or not. Our local district trustee is Helen Chadwick and she can be reached at 613-549-4238 and at (the Board tells me) chadwickh@limestone.on.ca  As it happens, she is a trustee member of the elementary PARC.

* In addition, people should be contacting their provincial representative, John Gerretsen MPP at 613-547-2385 or jgerretsen.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org Through the Education Act the province sets the policies under which the Boards of Education must conduct their PARC processes. One of the more difficult aspects of the PARC process for the Boards of Education is that the province only allows them $3 million a year for capital replacement, which is clearly inadequate, and one of the elements that forces them to consider school closures and the opening of new schools (for which capital is available). Through the Provincial Policy Statement and other legislation, the province sets the framework for the City’s Official Plan and many sustainability issues; many citizens have pointed out the oddity of promoting sustainability, densification, infrastructure affordability etc. and closing downtown schools.

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MPNA General Meeting This Thursday at Artillery Park

Our Agenda

– Updates from last year’s meeting: McBurney Park                     Upgrades, Inner Harbour trail

– PARC: Program and Accommodation Review Committee Kingston North public schools (Rae)

– Yellow Bike Action (Mike)

– Councillor’s Report (Rob Hutchison)

– Gardens (Julian if available)

– Committees:
Neighbourliness (Sharon)
Traffic (Walter)
Outreach
Land Use

Other Business

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Skeleton Park gardens.

Posted for Julian Brown

Dear Skeleton Park,

After about 15 years of looking after the three garden beds in Skeleton Park, it is time to make a plan for the next 15 years so that the gardens can continue to be a source of enjoyment. This is not a crisis call, but a suggestion for renewal. What is needed is a person or a small group of people who like gardening to take over the maintenance of the gardens.

It is mostly a commitment of time during the spring, summer and autumn seasons. Most of the plants are donated cuttings, but some years I buy and add a plant that looks interesting. The main operating problem is a lack of easy watering facilities, but this handled on Darwinian principles: if a plant can’t survive a hot dry period, it will die and something else will take its place.

The garden is extraordinarily free of vandalism. Some flowers get stolen, which is great because they are usually from plants which are flowering prolifically. There is little theft of plants, though two seem to have been dug up and taken recently. In other words, despite some rowdyism in the park over the years, the work invested in the gardens is very rarely interfered with maliciously.

The greatest pleasure over the years has been talking to passers-by who stop to chat while I am working in the gardens. The plants I enjoy most are the peonies in early summer and, during the whole winter, the tall grass in the centre bed, which stays strong and defiant despite gales of wind and snow and even a coating of ice. There is an early lemon yellow daylily, and three adjacent bergamot plants with slight gradations of pink, both of which I look forward to seeing.
This is not a bad time to start to change over to new management. Is anyone interested? I can help with planning the work.

With best regards

Julian Brown

Photo, looking east, of one of the gardens tended by Julian.

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Trees, please.

Stump in the park.

Letter written by Melanie Dugan to the City (Kingston Public Works Supervisor).

Dear Darrin,

I am still waiting for a reply to my last e-mail to you, a reply to the one in which I asked whether you had any idea when the trees might be planted.

My question is a serious one. I have been involved in planting trees in Skeleton Park since immediately after the Ice Storm in 1998. I was one of the group of people who organized the first post-Ice Storm planting, and I contributed $400 to the second post-Ice Storm planting, and then waited and waited for the trees to be planted, only to be told we’d run into problems at City Hall. This was the first time those of us involved heard about The Archaeologist. I referred to The Archaeologist in my previous e-mail, and pointed out that when the basketball court and new lights went in two or so years ago I asked the Parks fellows on site why there wasn’t an archaeologist hanging around, since she had been so present previously and yet when the court and lights went in The Archaeologist was nearly invisible. As I reported in my last e-mail, I was told the rules regarding The Archaeologist had changed, they were less stringent and the cost had gone down as well.

By the way, when I contributed the $400 I was told $400 bought me two plaques; only one has been installed, in memory of my mother, Gwen Dugan. It is near the wading pool if you want to check. I have never complained about the lack of a second plaque; I am simply happy to have trees being planted in the park.

On that point, the part of the park where the three trees have come down in the last two to three years is/was the Catholic section of the cemetery and it’s our (the local people who are interested in the park, and also those of us who have read the charming plaque in the planter in the middle of the park) understanding that the Catholic church removed the people buried in that part of the park and transferred them to the cemetery near QECVI, which means – theoretically – no one is buried there, so there is no need for an archaeologist, or much less need for one, if that is, in fact, the reason for the delay in planting.

City Hall made various promises to improve Skeleton Park. I believe planting trees and maintaining the canopy of the park – the shade from which makes it such a nice place to spend time – and the character of the park is imperative. I will point out to you that while many of the promised improvements to Skeleton Park have not occurred, a whole lot of money has been spent upgrading the park around the Memorial Centre. I have learned that it now costs $8 a person to use the pool there, effectively putting use of the pool out of reach of many low income people and families in the north end. That’s a whole other issue, however, the (comparatively) minimal cost to replant trees will ensure that Skeleton Park, which costs nothing (as yet) for citizens to use will insure it continues to be appealing and will continue to enjoy the high level of use it currently does (just pop by any sunny, warm day and count how many people are in the park; it also serves as a destination for the residents of Providence Manor when they need to get out for a change).

In closing, I am in the park three, four, sometimes five times a day, depending on my dog’s needs. It’s a great park. Kids in the neighborhood play there, small folks paddle at the wading pool, people from Providence Manor use the park, events happen regularly (Solstice Festival, Skeleton Park Music Festival, as well as ad hoc, spontaneous events such as birthday parties – people come from far away to have these in the park – and neighborhood baseball games, frisbee). There is skating in the winter. Trees are an integral part of the park. I believe we need to have the three trees which have fallen and/or been removed in the last two years replaced as soon as possible, and further that we need a clear replacement policy regarding Skeleton Park since the remaining silver maples have at best 30 years left and we can’t have their replacement dependent on the whims of those at City Hall, who may not understand the history of the issue, and may not be invested in maintaining the park’s character.  Please let me know when you think the replacement planting may take place.  Thank you for your attention.

Sincerely,

Melanie Dugan

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