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Small park, big lesson

The recent mishap at Glen Stewart Park has raised several issues for the City of Oshawa and its residents.

Firstly, it would appear that we could be walking around on landfill waste and neither we nor the city would know about it.

Secondly, there’s a lack of accountability when it comes to making mistakes in the City of Oshawa.

The lack of foresight in the Glen Stewart Park redevelopment has not only cost this city and its baseball playing community a much needed new baseball diamond, but the city is leaving the door wide open for the same thing to happen again.

The discovery of excess landfill waste in the field at Glen Stewart Park stinks, but the fact that city staff are unwilling to make any back-end changes, and that council refuses to hold them accountable, stinks even more.

Plain and simple, taxpayers are on the hook for this misstep. They’ll be paying for the additional public consultations to figure out what to do with the park now ($1,500) and not only that, they’re paying the salaries of all those staff members who are going around the merry-go-round again to undertake the same consultation for the same park because of a mess they created.

And it could easily happen again.

According to the city’s own Parks, Recreation, Library and Culture Facilities Needs Assessment (PRLC), a mouthful of a title for an even larger document, it states that as the city grows, more parkland must be acquired to accommodate those additional residents. Specifically, a target has been set to ensure there is 106 additional hectares of parkland space when the population reaches 197,000 people.

With the amount of brownfields still existing in the City of Oshawa, it’s not an unsafe assumption to believe that another park could face this same issue in the future.

For that reason, council should take this opportunity to move forward with a policy to ensure this type of thing isn’t repeated. For starters, the document should ensure that up-to-date consultant reports are used ahead of any detailed design phase and even further study should be done when the location is known to be contaminated.

The writing could already be on the wall for such a policy, as the PRLC recommends a review of the city’s park design guidelines, and with a special meeting of council coming up next week amid summer recess, perhaps it’s time to take the lessons learned and get the ball rolling.