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Survey says: playground controversy at the Collingwood council table

The July 22 council meeting got a little tense when it came to an order for staff to release 'raw data' results of a public survey

An old wood playground sparked some tension at council this week as councillors butted heads over its future.

More specifically, there were some differences of opinion over how to release the results of a recent public survey asking Collingwood residents to weigh-in on what build in place of the aging Sunset Point Enviro Park.

Early in the meeting, council heard a deputation from John Megarry representing the Sunset Point Residents Association. He had a list of concerns to raise with the town relating to the waterfront area, and among his questions was a request for the results of an online survey put out by the town in March this year.

The survey asked for specific suggestions for a new Enviro Park, including whether or not people were in favour of a splash pad in the area.

Councillor Tina Comi returned to the point at the end of the meeting, asking when council would receive the “raw data” results from the survey.

Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture Dean Collver said his staff weren’t finished compiling data and pursuing community feedback on the issue, and would continue working on the project to bring a design idea to council.

He said if it was the will of council, he could include that information in the staff report.

“Yes,” said Comi before Collver finished.

“No,” interrupted Councillor Bob Madigan.

Mayor Brian Saunderson told Comi the matter would have to be put to a council vote.

Comi put forward a motion asking for staff to provide council with the raw data results from the public survey.

Councillor Yvonne Hamlin was in support of the motion, but the rest of council voted against it, meaning the request was defeated.

“I believe there is an expectation from our residents that when they take the time to respond to a survey they can anticipate seeing the results in a clear, factual presentation,” said Comi in an email to CollingwoodToday. “So rather than receiving a staff report that says ‘there was interest in a water feature,’ residents and council would have the survey data, for example ‘72 per cent responded yes to a water feature.’”

Collver said he wasn’t sure yet whether the staff report to council will include specifics like the percent of respondents who wanted a water feature.

“The survey was never intended to be the final word on the design process, but rather an entry point to determining a general direction for the project,” said Collver, adding the public online survey was “part of a more comprehensive consultation process.”

He said the plan was always to provide a summary of the survey results alongside the design report council will need to approve the final budget for the project.

“We will provide anonymous survey results as an appendix to the report,” said Collver. “With the appropriate emphasis on what these results contributed to the final design.”

The Engage Collingwood website shows a timeline for the design process of the project, including information about the park, where the process currently stands, and who to contact with feedback or questions at any time.

Currently, the project is in family engagement sessions where designers will be working with parents and youth who are interested in contributing to what the playground will look like at the end of construction. Previous efforts included town staff attending elementary schools to get feedback from youth on “various modes of play” and how they might enjoy a new playground.

The site also notes there was a public survey and staff evaluated 5,000 comments received to open ended questions. Staff will provide a “brief” of the comments received to the design/build team once one is selected.

Under the notes on the public survey portion of the timeline, the site states the survey responses will be used to provide direction on high-level elements.

“As well, we are now certain that we will need to work with a custom playground designer,” states the Engage Collingwood site.

Next on the timeline is hiring a designer/custom builder through the town’s procurement process, design work vetted through stakeholders, then a presentation of the draft designs, at which time council and the public will be able to provide comments for further improvements.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 13 years of experience as a local journalist
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