On to the New Year …

On to the New Year … with the Annual General Meeting successfully behind us.  With Mayor McMullan, Grantham Ward Councillors Bill Phillips and Dawn Dodge, ‘regrets’ from St. George’s Ward Councillor Greg Washuta, a goodly group of interested Members and Friends gathered to hear the Mayor speak of the future, the growth of our City, plans known and visions explained. An informal and positive Question and Answer period allowed Members and Friends to gain the more specific information they sought. As the Mayor had grown up in the Walker’s Creek area and had served as a Grantham Ward Councillor in the past, his familiarity with the area and the efforts of the WCNA were well recognized.

Councillor Bill Phillips, who has been a Council lead on the development of the new pool and library was able to report that by summer, those facilities will be open and in full use. The better planned Library, with additions to its offerings and complete access to all sections by mobility challenged persons, will also provide a comfy area where relaxed reading and enjoyment will be possible… “Possibly a pleasant waiting area for parents with children in swim classes, ” he suggested. The tiling of the pools and the demanding work on the mechanicals are now well underway, with much more activity inside the complex than seen on the exterior.

Councillor Dawn Dodge asked the WCNA, in cooperation with Malcomson Park leaders, to work with Regional Councillor Bruce Timms to seek connecting pathways , and a possible small parkette, joining the Waterfront Trail to the natural settings of the Parks. The potential parkette would provide a pleasant setting, allowing folks to more comfortably watch the Welland canal’s entrance from Lake Ontario and transform  an annoying area of illegal littering into a positive place for the many folks who enjoy that scene and canal activity. The WCNA will be actively involved in this potential improvement.

Co-chair Greg Eckhart of Malcolmson Park expressed pleasure in the increased cooperation between the WCNA and Malcolmson. He suggested the possibility of some grants that the WCNA will actively explore. As the WCNA and Malcolmson Park now involve representatives on the leadership groups of each facility, cooperative planning, sharing, volunteering and purchasing have positively increased.

An Annual Report on WCNA activities in the year 2011 was delivered by Chairperson Ben Hannan, outlining the successes, the continuing concerns and explaining the efforts of the WCNA in many areas that are less visible than seen in park care, respect and interest. The addition of the new children’s playground and Darby Family Cemetery commemorative plaque in Cindy Drive Park were very welcome additions in 2011. Increased nvolvement of school children in the Parks in 2012 is under active pursuit. With the entire group of Directors re-elected, with the addition of Past Chairperson Mike Sullivan, the Directors are preparing enhanced activities of greater variety in the year ahead. A financial report showed that the WCNA is comfortably in the ‘black’ as it enters the New Year, thanks to the continued support of the Members, paying the annual $10 fee and many generous donations.

Priorities in the coming year include continued enhancement of the tree canopy with native specie trees being the chosen route. Improving accessibility via the pathways for mobility challenged individuals is past the initial ‘consideration’ stage and with the coming survey and evaluation of the pathways by the City’s Accessibility Committee, we await more expert reommendations and priority setting. A submission to the City’s 2012 Ad Hoc Budget Committee has been made and we await the final budget in March to see if we have been successful in adding funds for corrective work as part of the improvement of trails and pathways. Programs and events pursuing activities that will encourage park use and positive neighbourhood development are constant Directors’ agenda items.  The WCNA seeks and receives positive responses from many groups whose interest sand activities parallel some of the WCNA’s priorities. Increased cooperation and involvement with the City’s Green Committee,  Clean City Committee, Heritage Committee, Accessibility Committee, the St. Catharines Horticultural Society, the Recreation and Community Services Department (RCS) and Malcolmson Park adds depth and support to the WCNA plans and priorities, while overcoming a sense of isolation that has been a limiting factor in the past. Added involvement with Brock University’s department of Community Learning  broadens the scope and access to expertise that  holds much potential benefit for the WCNA and its future endeavours.

The year 2011 was a platform from which the enhanced year of 2012 will be launched. Many thanks to the individuals who made significant contributions, in volunteer work, in shared ideas, in making the Directors aware of concerns and for the very ready help of the City staff in both the RCS and TES departments. The constant support and encouragement of the Grantham and St. George’s Ward City Councillors is of significant value and deeply appreciated. And a ‘tip of the sweat stained hat’ is more than due to the small group of Directors who care openly, give time willingly and add skills, without which the WCNA might be a puff ball in the wind!!