Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Northcrest, Part Two: Templeman Calls for Real Community Center

If paving over one-third of Northcrest’s greenspace and turning its only remaining natural area into yet another roadway weren’t enough damage to the ward, city staff wants to replace the aging Northcrest arena, the ward’s only public indoor recreational facility, with a new twin-pad at Sir Sandford Fleming at the city’s far southwestern corner.

How did City Hall stray so far from the path? Instead of looking for creative ways to maximize the existing arena property, or targeting land acquisition at a new spot central for Northcrest residents, staff went fishing for private land-holders to make them a sales pitch for a new hockey arena anywhere around the city.

The resulting report set off an imaginary shopping spree among councillors dreaming of a massive new OHL hockey arena complex to be used as a tourist attraction. What happened to the idea of using public tax dollars to actually serve the public who pay them? Apparently, building more seats for spectators at a location Northcresters will have to drive their cars across the city to get to counts as “recreational opportunity” in the minds of some city councillors.

Bill Templeman is the leading Northcrest candidate for anyone who’s looking for a voice of reason without any big-money strings attached. Having been a teacher, social worker, writer, and management & leadership consultant over his long career, Templeman has a wider range of experience than the other candidates – evident in his common-sense approach to the issues.

Templeman made the news last week with his call for a full-service recreation center in Northcrest that is also a community center, with facilities of various kinds for the whole family, not just hockey players.

Public meetings held last year by the consultants who prepared the new arena report showed that this is exactly what residents want, yet City Hall completely ignored this aspect of the study. Templeman voiced this need at the final meeting of the outgoing city council last Monday, then again at the Sports and Rec all-candidates meeting on Wednesday,  and on a video on his website, as reported by the Examiner

Site of a new stacked double-rink?
“First thing in my vision is to do something for Northcrest,” Templeman told those in attendance at the Evinrude Center – one of three arenas already in the south-central part of town. City staff claim that the existing Northcrest Arena property is too small for a double-rink plus parking – but what about stacking the rinks? Underground parking? Building something on the oversized, unused lawn at Sunset and Chemong? Making a deal to redevelop the crumbling southern end of the Brookdale Plaza?

Templeman also calls for an outdoor artificial rink for pleasure skating. Toronto has 50 of these in convenient neighbourhood locations, and their communities love them.

Building the Parkway extension through Northcrest is a waste of public money, Templeman argues. The money we’d pay to replace the recreational trail with a roadway could be used to build a new community rec center.

He calls for selective road-widening, building a Western Bypass along Country Rd. 19 and Lily Lake over to Brealey, and implementing a computerized traffic control system – technology now affordable for small cities – as effective, realistic and economical ways to improve traffic flow.

Templeman’s pithy observation that “Peterborough’s leading export will continue to be well-educated young people who must move away to launch their careers” if we continue equating economic development with building tracts of houses for retirees from Toronto rings all too true. His blog posts indicate a focus on innovation, entrepreneurship, and culture industries as keys to changing this pattern. He calls for working with Trent’s Environmental Studies and the Ministry of Natural Resources to make Peterborough “a hub for green technology and green services.”

Stephen Wright declared his candidacy late in the game, and hasn’t been a strong visible presence on the campaign trail yet. A former lobbyist for a taxpayers group that he himself founded, his number one focus has been lower taxes. However, his website shows that smart growth ideas have even become attractive to the tax-cutting crew. Wright is against the Parkway and the bridge, observing that “Jackson Park is the envy of cities that made the mistakes of the past” and acknowledging that “there are newer, wiser solutions to traffic congestion” than the Parkway extension.

Unsurprisingly, Wright also calls for a property-tax freeze. Realistic? His website implies that he’ll lobby Queens Park to take back responsibilities previously downloaded on cities. Has he forgotten that Ontario has a $10 billion deficit?
As reported by the Examiner, Wright agrees that new recreational facilities are necessary, but thinks the private sector should build them. Here Wright sounds like Rob Ford on subways. There already are plenty of private gyms in Peterborough, and Northcresters could make use of Trent University’s athletic center – if they want to cough up hundreds of dollars for a membership. Isn’t the point of public recreational facilities that they’re available to everyone, not just the rich?

Northcrest candidates meet tomorrow night, Wednesday Oct. 8, at the Leta Brownscombe Co-op, as reported in the previous post. Come with your tough questions ready!

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