LETTER: Council fails to invest limited funds equitably

On July 28, 2022, On July 28, 2022, The Picton Gazette (Condition of Macaulay playground abysmal) urged the municipal government “to provide the kids of the community a safe and much better place to play.” Compared with other playgrounds in the County, abysmal conditions in the Village struck the Editor as a “classic example of classism.”

Recognizing the greater impact of the climate crisis in more vulnerable neighbourhoods, private developers’ focus on building expensive houses, and Council’s spending taxpayer dollars to subsidize high-end tourism in the County, I join the Gazette in urging the municipal government “to provide the kids of the community a safe and much better place to play.”

Unfortunately, it’s not easy to hold Council accountable. We have too many Councillors who influence too many committees for us to know who’s doing what for whom. I just happened to hear about the abysmal condition of playgrounds in the County – not just in Macaulay Village – at a meeting of the Community and Economic Development Commission on August 23, 2021. The Commission was supporting a proposal to spend $850,000 to develop the Picton Harbour Trail, even though Councillor Maynard (Ameliasburgh) was warning “We have almost every playground and park throughout the County that is not compliant.

Most of our playground equipment in most of our parks will need to be removed…. We have pretty finite resources and this is a huge investment and our other parks will get left behind. I would have rather seen the money spread throughout the County. This is a huge investment and it’s gained a lot of momentum but I just want to say that this is maybe a pretty ambitious project for a municipality that has a huge deficit in parks” (see https://youtu.be/kAiGmpJNhZ4 at 41:30).

When Council considered the proposal on January 11, 2022, it decided against a controversial add-on to hand $250,000 in public parkland funds to a private developer who had installed a boardwalk around its property on the Tip of the Bay. Undeterred, Councillor St. Jean (Picton) asked Council to reconsider its decision at the next earliest opportunity – and ultimately secured a $250,000 windfall for his constituent.

Now, developing a trail around Picton Harbour is a good idea. But Council’s approach here perhaps illustrates its broader failure to invest limited public funds equitably so as to address the needs of all residents across the entire County. We should ask candidates in the upcoming municipal election how they would do things differently.

Paul Allen