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‘Pent-up demand’: Resident petitions town for new rec facility

John Belknap’s petition calling on Collingwood to get a new multi-use recreation facility has gathered 660 signatures so far, and rising
John Belknap, left, along with his family outside Penny's Motel. Belknap has started a petition to bring a multi-use recreation facility to Collingwood.

One Collingwood resident has started a petition to bring a multi-use recreation facility to town, hoping it will be harder for the town to ignore a large group of voices.

John Belknap started the petition on on Nov. 30, with it reaching 660 signatures within a week of it being posted.

“I wanted to make sure council knew there was a voice and a huge pent-up demand for something like this,” Belknap told CollingwoodToday this week. His three kids all play sports in local leagues such as hockey, soccer and baseball, and says getting ice time is definitely an issue in town.

“You can’t rent ice. My kids will have a practice and the ice is shared with another team every week,” he said. “It’s important to have something here so kids can play sports year-round,” he said.

Belknap acknowledges he’s heard lots of talk about Collingwood possibly moving forward on a recreation complex, but has seen little action so far.

“I know it’s been tried before. Where we are now, the need for one is huge. Instead of me emailing by myself, I thought the best way to prove it to council was to start a petition from residents,” he said. “The more signatures, the better.”

He says he has been in touch with town staff and Mayor Yvonne Hamlin on the matter, and says they have told him it is on their radar.

“I’m just not sure what priority it is,” he said, adding that one of the reasons he voted for Hamlin is because of her pledge to bring a multi-use recreation facility to Collingwood during the municipal election in 2022.

“A lot of people I know voted for her because of that,” he said.

As owner of Penny’s Motel in Thornbury, Belknap notes that a municipality’s ability to host sports tournaments can also be a big economic driver for tourism.

“We can’t offer that right now. There isn’t enough ice to put on those types of tournaments,” he said.

Back in July, the Collingwood Sports and Recreation Alliance (which includes representatives from multiple Collingwood sports organizations) came before councillors, pleading for movement on a multi-use recreation facility in town. The deputation was in response to a staff report that suggested the Town of Collingwood and the Town of the Blue Mountains (TBM) should join forces on a feasibility study to look at local recreation facility needs. At that time, both Collingwood and TBM councils voted in favour of proceeding with the joint approach.

The Town of Collingwood is also ramping up to start planning priorities for the next five years through the community-based strategic plan. The town is holding some in-person sessions to gather feedback on community priorities this week, with further plans to launch a public survey in the new year.

The community-based strategic plan will outline Collingwood’s strategic vision, values, and strategic priorities for the coming years. It will act as a guide for decision-making and resource allocation and help to build consensus among council, staff, and the community about where Collingwood is headed and how it will get there.

For more information on how to participate in Collingwood’s community-based strategic plan exercise, click here.

Belknap says he intends to present the petition to council at a future meeting.

To access and sign Belknap’s petition, click here.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 15 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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