Dysart moving forward with welcome centre and washroom facility
By Vanessa Balintec
The Rotary Club of Haliburton has proposed to build a combined washroom facility and welcome centre with Dysart et al’s support in Haliburton for its 75th year anniversary project.
According to Andrew Hodgson, a director with the Rotary Club of Haliburton, the proposed welcome centre would be in Head Lake Park with about six gender-neutral washrooms. The centre, with an information and events section, would enhance tourism and events promotion in the area, as well as meet washroom accessibility requirements.
“The Rotary Club of Haliburton and Dysart council has had a long history of working together for the betterment of our community,” said Hodgson during a council meeting on May 28.
“As a club we did a bit of a brainstorming session on what we’d like to have for our 75th anniversary project,” he said. “We bounced around a lot of different ideas and it kept coming back to the park. We kept going back to this park, that a beautiful, signature piece of our community, has outhouses. Unfortunately, I’ve had to use them in the summer, other folks have had to use them. So we thought about what to do with that and how we can help.”
According to the club’s proposal, the existing caboose information centre will not meet 2025 Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act standards.
“We would never want to get rid of the caboose, but it’s not accessible,” said Hodgson.
He said the washroom facility will deal with waste more effectively, as waste can go directly to the town sewage facility. Additionally, he said the centre has the potential for a splash pad for children and families in the future.
The cost of labour and materials is estimated at $150,000. The written proposal submitted by Ted Brandon, president of The Rotary Club of Haliburton, states the club is prepared to commit up to $75,000 toward the project. Hodgson said a ballpark of $250,000 for the entirety of the centre would be attainable with the help from upper-level grants.
“I think we’re all pretty much in agreement in principle of the washrooms in the park,” said Deputy Mayor Pat Kennedy. Kennedy said the location and design of the building isn’t final and can be discussed through the process, with consideration of water system solutions and future growth options.
Councillor Larry Clarke said it was an excellent initiative.
“What we’re seeing is one of the biggest impediments we have for Head Lake Park right now, the fact that we haven’t had some proper washrooms,” said Clarke. “This is a key component for us to move forward with that park area and be able to provide some better quality and better use of events.”
Councillor Walt McKechnie thought this initiative and location needed more planning.
“I think it’s a great idea, but I definitely don’t want to jump into committing to it,” said McKechnie. “I think it’s going to be a lot more money than we realize, up-keeping those washrooms. There’s horror stories about how tough it is. I think that we should maybe even talk to the public about this. If it’s in the right place, I want to know how much money it’s going to cost us to service it every year.”
Councillor John Smith said while Head Lake Park would be an ideal location, council has to find a way to pay for the washrooms.
“It is tackling a real problem,” said Smith. “I’ve also been in those facilities, and you know, they’re bad. They’re bad this time of the year, they’ll only get worse come July and August. As Larry said, it does impede in terms of events in the park. Walt also hit the operational cost. We’re going to have to figure out a model that’s going to allow us to pay for this thing, because it’s not going to be cheap and you can’t leave these things unattended.”
Council commended the club for its work on the proposal and supported the initiative.