Some old community centres may be getting the boot. It’s all part of the city’s parks and recreation master plan, which provides a framework for planning and development.
In a report released last year, it was revealed some of the city’s communty centres and buildings were in a serious state of disrepair at the time.
Now, in hopes of cutting spending on infrastructure, city staff recommend the closure of at least one of the suggested rec centres–the majority which are in the Bramalea neighbourhood.
Howden recreation centre is one of the possible closures. The city has invested over $1 million alone over the last decade to maintain the 42-year old structure. It also needs another $4.4 million in repairs to be brought up to date.
Terry Miller, Greenbriar and Balmoral recreation centres, all designed in the 1960s and ’70s when Bramalea was the major suburban hub in Brampton, have also been identified as potential sites for closure.
“Where we find ourselves today, having to face the decision to close much-needed recreational facilities, reflects in my opinion how negligent council was in the past with managing the city’s assets,” says councillor Martin Medeiros, Ward 3-4. “They went off and spent money, approving shiny new rec centres without taking care of what the city already had.”
In the last two decades the city has taken a massive step away from small community rec centres in favour of bigger hubs and community complexes.
Among those large community hubs are Gore Meadows community centre. After its current phase of construction it will have a library, indoor pool, running track and an outdoor covered skating rink.
The city has also just broken ground on a new addition to Creditview Park (at Creditview and Sandalwood) and is in the planning phase of a new multi-use community centre on the west side of Brampton.
Almost all these hubs reside in the city’s newer subdivisions, which aren’t well-connected by multi-use pathways and public transit, making them less accessible for residents who do not drive.
In 2015, after the neglect of city-owned buildings became clear, mayor Linda Jeffrey implemented a dedicated tax for infrastructure repair.
In last year’s budget city council also approved a hike in property tax as well as a 2 per cent infrastructure levy for the upkeep of assets.
“In the past, council made decisions that make it very difficult for us now. These aren’t issues we can run away from, and only now do we have an asset management plan and are starting to look at things holistically,” says Medeiros.
It isn’t clear which of the identified rec centres will close and how much money it will actually save the city, but there are already plans to continue building.
As part of the master plan, the city is also looking to add over 200 hectares of new parklands, and redevelop existing parks, as well as build three new cricket pitches, an artificial turf field, and a new community centre at Mississauga Road and Steeles Avenue.
“We are at a tipping point. We have some tough decisions to make and a plan I’m not sure we can implement.”