A new and improved Grant Park will get year-round washrooms for users of its new ball fields.
The city is redeveloping the park and building three new baseball diamonds – including one for players with disabilities in the Abbotsford Angels’ Challenger division. The park, which is located just northwest of the Clearbrook highway interchange, currently has a single field.
Along with the diamonds, the park will get more parking, better dugouts, and a wheelchair-friendly playground.
The city is also reverting to the original plan to keep new washrooms open year-round. When the final contract for the project was awarded in June, the washrooms were set to be closed from November to March, in order to meet the project’s $2.29 million budget and avoid having to heat the facilities year-round.
That prompted council at the time to ask staff to further explore the costs to heat the washrooms. The reduction in washroom availability prompted Coun. Les Barkman to vote against the awarding of the contract.
The city polled neighbours and stakeholders and found significant support for keeping the washrooms open all year. Two-thirds of neighbours and all user groups were in favour of the year-round options. The city now plans to go that route. Doing so is expected to add up to $150,000 to the cost of the project. The city also received a grant of $101,500 from the Jays Care Foundation, the Toronto Blue Jays’ charitable arm.
The change was applauded by Barkman.
“When I saw this on the agenda I was thrilled,” Barkman said.“I think if we encourage people to use our facilities for 12 months of a year and have our communities use it, I highly endorse the extra money being spent.”
Coun. Ross Siemens noted that the accessible playground at the site increased the likelihood of year-round use, and the importance of facilities for kids, including those with disabilities.
Siemens also asked if there was technology that would allow washrooms to be opened and closed automatically.
The city’s parks chief said that while all washrooms are currently opened manually, staff are exploring such options.
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