Keith Oliver Wins Support for Outdoor Fitness Park

For over two years, Keith Oliver has been campaigning for the idea that Cobourg should have an outdoor Fitness Park for seniors.  He was in good form at the Council meeting on Monday night – he prefaced his talk by saying that he wanted to make a good impression so he had his semi-annual haircut for the occasion.  But he has a plan:  he wanted Council support to make an application for a Federal grant for $25,000 under their “New Horizons for Seniors” program – it has a submission deadline of June 21.  The money would go towards the expected cost of approx. $95,000 with the balance coming from fundraising.  He pointed out that the idea was included in the Waterfront master plan and also that he had a supporting petition signed by 1038 individuals.

Keith Oliver
Keith Oliver

Keith presented his idea to the June 4 Parks and Recreation advisory committee and found support there;  he is now forming a 5 member “Fitness Park Working Group” to manage this project.  Two others have already joined: Dave Avery and Bruce Bellaire.

Keith points to similar parks in Peterborough and Whitby and that many other Municipalities have similar facilities.  The idea is that a collection of exercise equipment suitable for use by seniors outdoors would be installed in a Waterfront location.

Keith felt that it was important that the project not only provide fitness equipment for seniors but that they should be involved in making the project happen.

Council  discussed the issues and some items were clarified:

  • Deputy Director of  Community Services Teresa Behan said that the grant application could be done by Town staff by the deadline.
  • Although the grant application must be submitted by June 21, not all due diligence will be completed by then – e.g. operational costs, safety issues, liability issues, the experience of other municipalities, benefits, exact project cost, signage, exact location etc.  But these can come later.  The date agreed for that would be the Council’s COW meeting on October 15 which would still allow for inclusion in 2020 budget deliberations.  CAO Stephen Peacock said that a grant application and even approval is not a commitment and council could still opt out if they wanted.
  • Keith Oliver said that this particular grant does not require the Town to contribute but Mayor John Henderson expressed doubt that this would be true in practice.
  • Adam Bureau asked about the consequences of a one year delay.  Keith said that there was no guarantee that there would be another grant available next year.
  • The grant application must be by a legal entity such as the Town; the Town would therefore have full control.

After the discussion, Councillor Emily Chorley moved that council make the application for the grant and follow up with other work required in time for consideration in the 2020 budget.  The motion passed.

Below is the equipment Peterborough installed last year.

Peterborough fitness


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Keith Oliver
12 June 2019 12:50 pm

My response to issues raised by Walter, Albert and Old Codger. The potential for risk and related liability is every where. Any one can sue anyone over any thing, and often do. Should the Town shut down Victoria Beach because someone might drown? What about children using a Town playground? Is there not greater risk there than in an Adult Outdoor Fitness Park? Manufacturers of equipment have responded with a whole new generation of equipment that is more effective with fewer moving parts. The fitness facility at Beavermead Park at he SE corner of Peterborough, opened May 2018, is worth a visit and is an excellent first draft for Cobourg (see photo in John’s article.) Big improvement over Whitby (opened 2012). Beavermead includes detailed instruction panels at most of 21 exercise stations with ability to vary the resistance to experience 3 levels of challenge. As to use. Application for beginning of funding includes a plan to endorse and promote exercise as a part of improving quality-of-life for all in Cobourg. Promote use of Fitness Park, opportunities at the CCC, encourage senior’s groups to run “tours”, develop Exercise Coaches out of the retirement population to attend site at given times. Another use is for those recovering from joint replacement. I had total knee replacement 6 months ago. 6 OHIP physiotherapy sessions got me started to recovery but I’m still not there. Access to three machines in the Park would have made a difference. Only option available then was a 700.00 membership at the “Y” which I could not justify. There’s also the need to keep arthritic joints from seizing up, etc. Use of machines in general not for weight-lifters in training but for keeping all age groups fit. Can you couch-potstoes hear me? P.S. Service clubs were major contributors to cost… Read more »

Klaus Schroeder
12 June 2019 11:02 am

What a great idea Keith!! I commend your tenacity. If we all required “expert supervision” for everything we do, many of us would be sitting at home in front of the TV all day long. Life comes with risks, although I can’t see much risk with this endeavour.

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  Klaus Schroeder
12 June 2019 11:47 am

You can’t see much risk, but perhaps you would be interested in some FACTS regarding municipal liability?
“Over the past few years, there has been a startling upward trend regarding the factors impacting the municipal cost of claims. As the cost of claims increase exponentially, insurance premiums have followed suit. Key drivers that are influencing the cost of rising claims are:
• Damage awards are getting larger A higher proportion of liability is being assigned to municipalities and total awards are escalating dramatically.
• Future care costs are accelerating. Providing future health care is extremely costly.
• Joint & several liability (also known as the 1% rule). Municipalities are perceived as having deep pockets and therefore pay more than their fair share.
• Cost of defending claims is increasing. Cases are becoming more complex and taking longer to resolve, driving legal costs upward.
• Class actions. Courts are certifying more class action suits.
• Municipal claims inflation. Claims inflation is running at 6% to 8% annually.
• More litigious society. There is a higher frequency of claims and more municipalities are being named in Court cases even if only remotely associated.”
Source: LAS Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)

manfred s
Reply to  Walter Luedtke
12 June 2019 1:45 pm

your point is valid as an observation, Walter, but liability risk should not prevent GOOD things from being done, on the whole. If liability is inherent in a project, surely part of the answer is ensuring that such liability is limited to legitimate and unavoidable issues by employing good and careful designing practices and not to let the specter of user negligence scuttle good projects.

Walter Luedtke
Reply to  manfred s
12 June 2019 2:06 pm

Agreed Manfred.
Care and caution are required here and should be reserved for SERIOUS projects.
Some of the matters before Council, like the paddleboards on the beach and Senior outdoor exercise, strike me as – don’t laugh! – frills.

12 June 2019 9:36 am

Are there risks in using the equipment?
According To Harvard University Health Newsletter there are:
“If you’re exercising without expert supervision, you may do so incorrectly and hurt yourself. Seniors might be tempted to jump onto the equipment and play without warming up, and injure a muscle.”
“Stay away from outdoor exercise machines if you have balance problems and can fall, or if you’ve had surgery anywhere along your torso within the last 12 weeks, because you could rupture an incision.”
“Get your doctor’s okay first. Once you’re at a park, start by warming up.”
Hmmm, could be some liability concerns for the Town.

manfred s
Reply to  Albert
12 June 2019 1:55 pm

Albert, these risk factors are ubiquitous in everyday living, given the situations you cite. What can be said about the water play feature in the park or the frink or the dog park, or any other public venue where risks of sorts exist just by being there or using them? While your comment may only be intended to raise the issue for discussion, I don’t imagine that you have serious concerns about liability in this case.

Wendy Wren
11 June 2019 10:08 pm

A few senior Cobourg walkers go to Port Hope on Fridays and we stop and enjoy their outdoor exercise machines that are located along the walking path. The six machines offer a variety of easy exercises, well constructed clean and maintained. Good signage with instructions.
Along Cobourg’s west boardwalk south side would be an excellent place for these machines. Seniors out in the fresh air and already walking just need a little more variety without having to join a gym and no we are not embarrassed to use these in public.

Almost old codger
11 June 2019 4:41 pm

I have seen these outdoor exercise machines in towns and cities in Canada, Europe and even Malta. The problem is that I have never seen them being used by people, seniors or any age. They are generally just a civic virtue project, and I don’t think Cobourg needs these.
Sorry Keith , I do exercise and am a member at GoodLife. My experience is that most people who want to excercise do so in their own way, but not in public.
Not even if the town puts no money in, which I doubt.

Reply to  Almost old codger
11 June 2019 5:17 pm

I suppose you never take your grandchildren to the kids park either, after all they can play in MacDonalds!

Reply to  Almost old codger
12 June 2019 11:30 am

To introduce the facility, there are many ways to promote the equipment once in place – and gov financial incentives to provide summer employment of a post secondary student in a physical health-related program to ensure proper use

Lori and Ross
Reply to  Almost old codger
12 June 2019 12:30 pm

I agree with you almost old codger. My husband and I, both old fit codgers have seen these “parks” around the world but never being used.
To remain fit one does not need these machines.

And West Beach location….No no no

Rae Waring
Reply to  Almost old codger
22 June 2019 3:11 pm

Rotary tried a fitness trail mant tears ago. Almost zero use.

11 June 2019 1:05 pm

Have my concerns that this will sit and decay seldom used like the fitness park that was in James Cockburn Park for awhile. I skimmed through quickly but is it literally just for seniors or can anyone use it?

In any case I hope for the best.

manfred s
Reply to  Durka
11 June 2019 3:00 pm

for an answer to your ‘users’ question Durka, just think back to the skateboard park.

As for the project itself, I admire Keith for his dedication and tenacity in doing what he can, for the benefit of the people of Cobourg. He’s an inspiration and a grand example of selfless civic service. Keith, you rock! (not in a chair😉)

Reply to  manfred s
11 June 2019 3:59 pm

Oh yeah no doubt. Just hope it gets used. Kudos to Keith Oliver for really getting behind the things he believes in.

Wish he got his way with Walmart

Reply to  Durka
11 June 2019 5:15 pm

Maybe more people will reconsider their support of Walmart now that it has reduced the number of cashiers to force customers to use the self-checkout places. I know I will never use them!

Reply to  ben
11 June 2019 5:33 pm

Ben, what has your comment to do with this article.
Can you elaborate.

Reply to  Pierre
11 June 2019 6:26 pm

Keith and a couple of other writers on this Board spoke up, at the OMB, many years ago trying to force the Town to live up to its official plan and not gerrymander the process to allow the building of Cobourg in its present location. They failed and are still convinced that Walmart should have been built in another location. I would say that Manfred S is congratulating Keith for finally winning a battle he chose to take up.

The mention of Walmart in this thread was enough for me to remind the Board that it is not the consumer friendly corporation it pretends to be.

Now back to the exercise machines I have worked up a sweat! Good for everybody, the fact that it appears that not many are used in other locations should be no deterrent to the establishment of them in Cobourg. The very sight of them should prick more than a few consciences and prompt a thought of fitness!

Reply to  ben
11 June 2019 8:47 pm

Ben, ever use an ATM machine? Order anything on-line?

manfred s
Reply to  Frenchy
11 June 2019 11:51 pm

Walmart received the support and blessings from Council in part, on the promise of more local jobs, a promise that now rings hollow indeed. No such promise is connected to your examples, Frenchy.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  manfred s
12 June 2019 9:39 am

I recall that Walmart also said they would act as partner with community and promote (there was a dollar figure for this) the downtown area at their store location. And more in line on topic with this thread, Walmart is apparently one of the few local stores accessible to people who need to leave their heavy and large mobility devices at home. The store provides alternative mobility devices so customers can arrive by taxi. Why do people disconnect from their own mobility devices? The routes between home and shopping are not continuous, the folks do not feel safe travelling on their own. Another good reason for mapping safe routes and connections (e.g. street crossings) between major destinations including places we live, shop, play and attend school.

manfred s
Reply to  Miriam Mutton
12 June 2019 11:53 am

again, I hesitate but only for a moment, to extend this side string re Walmart. Miriam, what you say about Walmart’s mobility concerns is an in-store matter, meant to further its own interests (which is normal and reasonable), however it’s not about civic benefit, like the fitness park. To link these two is way too generous. It also was not part of the slate of benefits that was presented as a good reason to allow it to decimate the Official Plan at the time. Btw, the promise of helping to promote the downtown never materialized as intended or expected, so, so much for that little feather.
As far as mobility devices in stores goes, I know of at least two other box stores that provide them as well. This ‘benefit’ to customers is only affordable by the big boxes and to imply that those that don’t, are in some way falling short of concern for customers’ accessibility issues is unreasonable, in my view anyway.

Miriam Mutton
Reply to  manfred s
12 June 2019 12:50 pm

Good points Manfred. And, I did not intend to imply that other businesses do not care about customer accessibility. The senior who shared her view on the convenience of shopping at the big box store also said to me that she wished she was not so restricted, due in part to her personal sense of safety, in choice of shopping places.

Reply to  manfred s
12 June 2019 9:25 pm

No such promise was connected to Ben’s post either, which, is what I was replying to.

Maybe more people will reconsider their support of Walmart now that it has reduced the number of cashiers to force customers to use the self-checkout places. I know I will never use them!

But, it’s cute to hear Ben speaking for you, and you, in turn rushing to his defense.

Reply to  Frenchy
14 June 2019 6:43 am

Very rarely Frenchy!

Hilda Bryan-Seet
Reply to  manfred s
12 June 2019 4:52 pm

Outdoor Fitness Parks enhance positive aging – A.M. Hilda Bryan-Seet. Keeping physically fit is not something we can afford to take for granted as we age. As we age, we must work harder to stay mentally and physically healthy. We can do this by providing appropriate access to outdoor fitness facilities, equipment and services that mirror the needs of our entire population, from the very young to our seniors. To live independent, productive lives requires us to stay mentally and physically healthy. It is our responsibility to remain physically active to help ensure that we maintain and reach our full potential by leading meaningful lives. Physical fitness is the key that unlocks physical and mental longevity as well promoting other emotional benefits. It is a natural extension of living in health as we age that is our right, and can be seen as our duty and obligation to our community. Regular sports are associated with the youth and adult population, it is not something commonly taken up by the elderly in our society, except as a spectator activity. We build arenas and gyms and provide beautiful sport fields and complexes for the use in our communities for the young. However, what means and investments do we provide to keep our seniors active? Without providing appropriate access for seniors to participate as physically active human beings, we limit their, and our community’s full potential to health and contribution. We need to rethink how we promote healthy lifestyles for our entire lifetime, not just for the young, such that being physically active naturally continues as we age into our later years. We can do this by providing age-appropriate facilities for adults and seniors that will help to create a lifetime of habits of being physically active that will serve them into old… Read more »