More on Adult Fitness Park

A last minute presentation by Keith Oliver at last night’s regular Council meeting seems to have caused a revision in the motion passed by Council.  Instead of the location being the Cobourg Community Centre, it is now not yet decided and once again has been referred to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (PRAC) where they will consider information provided by Keith in a presentation.  The motion that was passed allows equipment to be ordered so that the grant is not lost (It requires money to be spent by March 31, 2022).  But Keith was also not happy with the choice of equipment – he said some was not suitable for seniors – but this issue was not even discussed by Council and it’s too late now to change the choices.

In the lengthy debate, the rationale for choosing the CCC over Victoria Park was discussed.  The Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee decided on location based on a document from Staff that listed Pros and Cons for five locations: Victoria Beach, CCC grounds, Peace Park, Peter Delanty Park and New Amherst Park.  But the Committee did not consult Keith’s Working Group and he’s hoping to change their mind by presenting to them.

In the Council debate, it was clear that the big advantage of the CCC location was the proximity to staff who could provide programming, much like the current yoga program for seniors.

Here is the table provided by Staff showing Pros and Cons:

Location Pro Con
Victoria Beach Great Scenery Would have to be closed during gatherings
Accessible location for the public (close to walking trail) Harder for staff to access to provide programming or support
Very noticeable; Intriguing spot on the Waterfront trail No staff monitoring – children could view it as a playground or adults could use equipment improperly; increasing chance of injury to the public
Washrooms In Park No staff monitoring/cameras during off hours
Increased usage  
CCC Grounds Accessible location Not as noticeable location
Easier Parking, More parking close by Not on the Waterfront trail
Increased opportunity for programming; have staff at CCC Location requires more seniors to get transportation to get there; not as close of a walk to local seniors’ residences
Opportunity to be used during Seniors Activity Centre classes  
Washrooms available  
Security cameras on the CCC building allow for monitoring in off hours  
Peace Park Accessible location No staff monitoring
Parking Harder for staff to provide regular programming
On the Waterfront trail, but not as noticeable a location Not a high traffic park
Not a high traffic Park No washrooms
Can remain open all year round; no affect from festivals Park is wet and poor drainage
Peter Delanty Park Parking Lot No staff monitoring
Other complementary amenities; Tennis, Ball Diamond, Child Playground. Harder for staff to provide regular programming
Washrooms  
Accessible location  
New Amherst Park (London Sf/Charles Wilson Parkway) Other complementary amenities; Child Playground, walking trail, benches No staff monitoring
Accessible location Harder for staff to provide regular programming
Can remain open all year round; no affect from festivals or events No Washrooms
  No Parking
  Not a high traffic park

Council Voting

Two amendments that specified location (CCC and then Victoria Park) were defeated 4-3 but a third that required the PRAC to discuss the location with the Fitness Park Working Group was passed as was the final motion giving the go-ahead to buy equipment per the RFP.  The vote was 4-3 with Emily Chorley, Aaron Burchat, John Henderson and Suzanne Séguin in favour.  That is, these councillors wanted the location to be further discussed with PRAC but were happy to order equipment per the RFP now. The others seemed to want an immediate decision with Adam Bureau coming out in favour of the Victoria Park Location.

Update from Keith Oliver – 13 October

As a result of the motion passed, Keith has today emailed Councillors and included the following statement:

The recommendation by the FPWG was that Council defer its decision to a later date allowing enough time for Community Services to work with the FPWG to find better more suitable equipment for use by seniors based on our experience, and to leave the choice of a location to a later date. The Town had 5.5 months before the Federal Grant expires.

The debate by Council quickly drifted off track and became focused on location only and not the equipment. The proposed motion was amended to include the CCC and the full motion passed.

The clear intent of the Federal New Horizons for Seniors Grant Program and the $25,000 the Town was awarded was that the park be to the benefit of seniors. The “Leg Press” we found to be poorly designed. The “Air Walker” had safety issues. The “Challenge Circuit” was of little use to most seniors. The only acceptable piece was the “Accessible Hand Bike”.

Another issue ignored by Council was the surface of the park which is to be Engineered Wood Chips which wheelchairs find difficult to navigate and causes the surface below equipment to lower to the point where I found it very difficult to be seated on two pieces at the new Port Hope installation.

In our opinion Cobourg will now have a poorly equipped installation, at the wrong location on an inappropriate surface.

Based on last night’s Council decision and several phone calls this morning, the additional $25,000 donation from private sources has been cancelled and my request for Delegate Status before the November meeting of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee where I had hoped to apply the 10 criteria for site location used by the FPWG, has been withdrawn.

The FPWG will now look forward to other opportunities to create a well designed, well supplied and properly located Adult Outdoor Fitness Park at Cobourg’s wonderful waterfront.

As a minimum, it does not reflect well on communication by Town Staff and Councillors with the initiators of this project.  It seems to be too late to salvage it.

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Beach walker
18 October 2021 11:37 am

I appreciate all the hard work that has gone into this project and I hope it is successful. There is one in Picton. I have been here 6 months now and walk by it several times a week as it is on a walking trail, in a busy park, by a playground. I have not seen it been used at all.

Fran DuBroy
16 October 2021 10:30 pm

We do not need an adult fitness park. We have the Cobourg Community Centre which has many different excellent fitness programmes geared towards Seniors. What a waste of time and money to even consider an adult fitness park.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Fran DuBroy
17 October 2021 10:35 pm

Fran DuBroy

A fitness park at the CCC and one at the waterfront are two entirely different creatures.

At the CCC it would serve only those who already attend programs or ones that can come by car. There are less than 300 homes within a 5-10 minute walk. At the waterfront there are over 1,000 including Legion Village where one can reach the AOFP using a walker or wheelchair.

There is also a follow-up plan to begin a program called Fit4LifeCobourg that will encourage folks to become more physically active in many different and appealing ways.

Before you jump to conclusions about an adult fitness park, wait until you see the final plan and the groups interested in using it.

Keith Oliver
15 October 2021 8:57 am

To all concerned, please don’t vilify Council or Staff. I have gotten to know many of them
They work hard and have the best for Cobourg always in mind. Some of the issues are huge, complex and often arrive on their desk at the same time.

Please read my post of October 14 at 7:57 pm in response to Mrs J.

Despite the vote on Tuesday night I did not cry myself to sleep. My cat can attest to that. Instead I believe I have found what may be a better solution to the challenge of creating an Adult Outdoo Fitness Park in Cobourhg that will cater to all adults , be accessible to all, possibly generate revenue for the CCC and be located at the most appropriate location.

More to come!

Concerned
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 October 2021 1:20 pm

Thank you for that Keith, many on this blog make a game of beating up on staff and council to think many of d the people are members of the community and to think they don’t want to do what is best for the town is ludicrous.

Art Seymour
14 October 2021 7:27 pm

From all the comments above, I would be furious , if I were the Mayor, to allow such nonsense to continue. Mr. Oliver and group seemed to have done an above average job in their research work and should be the main source of advice in this particular proposal.
Having been very involved in two major, and successful, projects in recent times, I now feel we (project teams) were very lucky not having to go through so much poor decision-making and co-ordination with municipal staff.

Molly
14 October 2021 9:45 am

Council has no one to blame but themselves if this turns out to be a white elephant. Mr Oliver presented himself very professionally at council meeting but council decided to side with “ town staff “and rush things through so an order could be placed the next day for unsatisfactory adult exercise equipment.
Town employee was front and centre at the meeting, is that why council failed to discuss some concerns raised by Mr Oliver?

New to Cobourg
14 October 2021 9:21 am

Having used the adult fitness equipment several times that is located in Port Perry, I can attest no supervision or monitoring is required, I have not observed any children using/misusing the equipment and having it near the water where people gather is an ideal location.

Ken
Reply to  New to Cobourg
14 October 2021 9:30 am

I agree! Port Hope seems to have got their ‘fitness park’ right!

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Ken
16 October 2021 9:30 am

Ken

I believe you have got Port Hope and Port Perry fitness parks mixed up. Port Hope’s is not an example I and the Fitness Park Working Group would quote.

While it uses Norwell, one of the most expensive fitness systems out there, of the 6 unites selected, and after only 3 years, one broke down and has been removed, and 3 are poorly designed for use by seniors. 2 of the latter have a seat that is 32 inches off the ground. That’s like trying to sit comfortably on your dinning room table.

Last edited 10 days ago by Keith Oliver
Kathleen
13 October 2021 9:54 pm

I hope we have good choices come election time. Just too bad we can’t also vote for Sr. City Staff as well.

Dubious
Reply to  Kathleen
13 October 2021 10:58 pm

Funny!

Cobourg taxpayer
13 October 2021 5:21 pm

Another example of why the council of the Town of Cobourg and staff rarely get anything accomplished or if they do it needs to be redone. Or they choose their own agenda which seems to be the case with this adult fitness park equipment. Anyone remember the reconstruction twice of the intersection at No Frills? The Gay crosswalk that also washed away after the first application and is disappearing again after a second application. How about the 7 Feathers crosswalk? The presentation to council by staff a few years ago to build more stages in the parking lot behind town hall and to rebuild the road there as well just after it had been rebuilt. The CCC that was supposed to be a seniors centre and became a hockey mausoleum. While I do not support the adult fitness park it is beyond me how something which is relatively minor in the grand scheme of things becomes so incredibly complicated and insurmountable.

Wally Keeler
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
13 October 2021 10:01 pm

The Gay crosswalk that also washed away after the first application and is disappearing again after a second application.”

None of that needed to happen. We know by the burgundy crosswalks at the LCBO that cement can be coloured, and done so at negligible expense. The rainbow crosswalk could have been done with coloured concrete. The snow plow could run over it and nothing would be scraped away. The street sweeping machine with its metallic bristles could regularly clean the crosswalk by scraping off the tire grime without damaging the colours. No annual upkeep. Talk about low maintenance, whereas the painted rainbow require$ repair$ every year after year after year ad nau$eum.

Concerned
Reply to  Cobourg taxpayer
14 October 2021 2:16 pm

Again it goes back to a previous point I made on budget talks, we for years have continually promoted staff from within and it appears some senior staff are ill prepared for the responsibility they have and we need to shop elsewhere if internal staff are not qualified to be in a senior position. If we want them to be qualified we have to ensure there is budget monies for additional training of staff as they move up through the Corporation. Just being from the town shouldn’t be reason to promote someone to a senior position. If we could afford it maybe a house cleaning is in order for some senior staff but I’m sure we could never afford those payouts. To see the pro’s and con’s list but nothing in regards
to the equipment selected makes one wonder.

Leweez
Reply to  Concerned
14 October 2021 7:19 pm

I am a believer in that senior managers have a shelf life of 5 years. After that they become complacent.
in regards to shopping elsewhere for employees, our housing prices in town are a deterrent and wages aren’t great enough to warrant the move.
as for the housecleaning of staff, sometimes you cannot afford NOT to do it

Last edited 12 days ago by Leweez
Concerned
Reply to  Leweez
15 October 2021 1:22 pm

I agree the house cleaning needs to be done but could you imagine the outcry on here if someone was let go at the cost of over 100k, another I can think of based on current employment law would cost over 200k.

Keith Oliver
13 October 2021 2:45 pm

It seems that I was confused by the amendments, and amendments to amendments as well as the final resolution that passed with regard to location. To me the minute the choice of location became an issue the matter should have been referred back to the Parks and Rec Advisory Committee for a final recommendation instead of the choice they expected Council to make. The time spent by Council debating location and doing the work of the Advisory Committee took away from the time that Council should have taken to ask questions about the equipment in the Active Fit proposal.

Through all of this, over a period of more than two years since the FPWG worked with Community Services to write and submit what became a successful grant application, the FPWG, the most qualified, the most experienced, the most professional, the ones that had seen and tested the most equipment from the most manufacturers, the ones who had spent more than 400 hours and traveled close to 1,000 km, were shut out of the process leading to yesterday’s meeting of October 21. Our 95 page October 15, 2019, “State of the Project Report ” was never read by Staff or by Council. In the 36 page hard-copy describing our Delegation of the 12th, that all received 24 to 48 hours before Council met, only 1/3 of the material in the 2019 Report was included.

Talk about getting through a glass ceiling, try getting through an iron gate. For all of this Cobourg today is the poorer, a missed opportunity to really become “the feel good Town!”. I am optimistic that one day Cobourg with have such an asset.

GERALD CHILDS
Reply to  Keith Oliver
14 October 2021 10:43 am

Do any of the TD have alternative suggestions, or are you entirely behind the decision of the Council. TU:23-18:TD so far.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  GERALD CHILDS
14 October 2021 7:32 pm

Gerald Child’s

Sorry, Not clear what your question is. Please re-phrase.

GERALD CHILDS
Reply to  Keith Oliver
15 October 2021 9:24 am

My apologies. I asked if any of the TD (thumbs-down voters) had anything to offer by way of suggestions. TU (thumbs-up) is the other abbreviation.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  GERALD CHILDS
15 October 2021 2:43 pm

Gerald Child’s

Thanks.

I have absolutely no problem with criticism. I welcome it as lomg as it is reasoned, respectful and offers examples or alternatives. Otherwise, if it’s just venting, the authors don’t seem to understand how much such criticism causes others to take them less seriously.

Perhaps, as seems to happem so often on social media … they don’t really care!

Thumbs up or down is a way of voting with no rationale required.

Mrs.J.
Reply to  Keith Oliver
14 October 2021 12:32 pm

Keith Oliver thanks so very much for your comprehensive efforts in trying to get this wonderful project to fruition, but I, like you, am totally disgusted with YET ANOTHER missed opportunity by “the powers that be” a.k.a. Town Council and their puppeteers a.k.a. Town Staff!
WHY on earth do they feel the need for staff to be available to provide “programming”?!?!
Do they think Seniors are brain-dead and can’t read what I assume will be posted instructional signs regarding HOW TO USE each piece of equipment (like they do at Goderich’s waterfront park)? Give your head a shake Town Council & Staff, because there are NO staffers/programmers at any of the children’s playground equipment locations throughout our town!

Concerned
Reply to  Mrs.J.
14 October 2021 5:56 pm

I understand your point but I believe what she said was they could use the equipment to put on more programming as they have a large seniors program at the CCC and would take advantage of the equipment being there to maximize its use. Not defending just clarifying what she actually said.

Keith Oliver
Reply to  Mrs.J.
14 October 2021 7:57 pm

Mrs J.

Thanks for your compliment but please, in all of my experience here and elsewhere, I believe a town council is a fairly accurate representation of the electorate it serves.

The Council I first encountered in 2000 was little more than an old boy’s club and the Town’s Official Plan was 48 pages long. Now it’s almost 10 tlmes that and we have 3 women on Council. Most Councillors work very hard at their job and are sometimes subject to abuse which I would find very hard to tolerate, and I have a fairly thick skin.

I always look for advantage in what appears to be defeat and I believe there is one here. I need a few more days and I need to talk with several others. It may take longer to create a comprehensive and well planned and properly located fitness park, but I believe there maybe a way. Stay tuned … the best solution may be yet to come.