The age and quality of our facilities here in Thornhill, including the amenities in our local parks is a serious concern. If we do not take care of these, Thornhill can quite easily become the ‘have not’ part of Markham.
Thornhill certainly has its share of facilities: the Village Library and the Community Centre - which includes ice rink, library, meeting rooms, seniors centre, etc. Despite a multi-million dollar renovation to the Community Centre over the last few years, many of our city-owned buildings in Thornhill are old and have a ‘tired’ feel. As opposed to other community centres in the city such as Angus Glen and Centennial, Thornhill’s pool is isolated, in an old building and unattached to any other community facility.
In newer areas of Markham where extensive development is occurring, projects such as new community centres or new parks with all the ‘bells and whistles’ are funded through Development Charges levied on developers. Only 10% of a brand new park, for instance, comes from taxpayer revenue.
The challenge facing Thornhill. If we put in a new splash pad in Cornell, for instance, the taxpayers (including you and I in Thornhill), only pay 10% of the cost of that splash pad. An identical piece of equipment at Bayview Glen Park or Huntington Park in Thornhill – the taxpayer pays the entire amount.
Whether one lives in Thornhill or Cornell, we pay the same tax rate. As your Councillor, I will fight to have this changed.
What have I done?
In Glencrest Park:
- Raised residents’ concerns about old and unsafe equipment with senior staff at Markham’s General Committee
- Held multiple meetings with residents to discuss private fundraising opportunities for the park
- Arranged for residents to meet with staff at the park. Equipment closed immediately thereafter for safety concerns and will be fixed and upgraded over the next few weeks.
- I am happy to announce that brand new equipment will be installed next year
In Duncan Park:
- Held extensive consultation to identify preferred new park feature following the removal of an old, structurally unsafe tennis clubhouse.
- Currently working at securing alternative funding for a new gazebo to replace the clubhouse
I believe we must be committed to providing the highest standards of community facilities in Markham– whether in Thornhill, Cornell or Unionville. This should be based upon the principles of social equity, environmental sustainability, financial affordability and transparency of process. Everyone should have equal access to community resources and opportunities. This will include:
- A Complete park ‘renaissance’ plan within 12 months;
- Establish a Community Amenities Fund to ensure that funds are set aside for annual improvements to all parks – regardless of where someone lives in Markham – in addition to annual improvements at all community centres and libraries. Not merely maintenance;
- Adopt innovative parks policy and look for new ways of operating and financing existing parks as well as look at abandoned spaces as opportunities to create new parks.