An overwhelming majority of respondents to surveys about future uses of Jack Purdie and Centennial Parks favour all-park options for both and are in favour of paying more taxes to maintain our parks, according to results that will be reviewed tonight by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
Some themes, like a desire for more trees, playground equipment, walking paths and an opposition to affordable housing on parkland, are common to surveys for each of the parks, but there are interesting differences in the results when it comes to how often people use the parks and what mode of transportation they use to access them.
67.2 per cent of survey respondents said they walked to Jack Purdie Park, 49 per cent said they cycled and 27.9 per cent said they drove a vehicle, which makes sense considering the park is surrounded on all sides by residential homes with access points at each end of the property. Only 53.4 per cent of survey respondents said they walked to Centennial Park, with 38.5 per cent saying they drove and only 7.7 per cent saying they cycled there most of the time.
In terms of park usage, survey respondents said they frequented Jack Purdie Park significantly more than Centennial, which had its recreational amenities displaced to make way for the new public high school. 41.4 per cent of the 369 people who filled out the Jack Purdie Park survey said they visited the park weekly and another 26.2 per cent said they visited it daily. 15.9 per cent of the respondents visited the park monthly and 16.5 per cent of respondents said they rarely visited the park.
The results for Centennial Park tell a different story: 42.9 per cent of the 246 survey respondents said they rarely visited the park and another 24.7 per cent said they only visited monthly. 23.1 per cent of survey respondents said they visited weekly and only 9.3 per cent said they visit the park every day.
Survey respondents were clear, though, that they would visit both parks more frequently if they were improved and outfitted with additional recreational amenities.
77.3 per cent of survey respondents said they would Jack Purdie Park more frequently if it were improved and 78.9 per cent said they would visit Centennial Park more often if the Town invested in it. Jack Purdie Park is sprawling but right now features only playground equipment in desperate need of repair and no other recreational amenities save for a trail system also in need of refurbishment. Centennial Park once had tennis and basketballs courts, ball diamonds, a skate park, a pool and a track and field complex but now a portion of that track is behind a fence on school board property.
Survey respondents were overwhelmingly against the concept of affordable housing on parkland. 80.5 per cent of Jack Purdie survey respondents said they were not in favour of affordable housing within a park setting and 89.2 per cent were opposed to selling a portion of the park to fund recreational amenities on the parkland that remained. 67.6 per cent of the respondents to the Centennial Park Survey said they didn’t like the concept of affordable housing within a park setting.
Respondents to each survey were provided a list of 20 recreational amenities/park elements and asked to rank the most important to least important. For Jack Purdie Park, the five most popular amenities were playground pieces, trees, walking paths/multi-use trails, grass sports field/open and splashpad. For Centennial Park, the top five were trees, playground pieces, walking path/multi-use trail, the sledding hill and washrooms. Among the least popular options for both parks were soccer fields, pickle ball courts and baseball diamonds, which speaks, perhaps, to the undeveloped potential of the Libro Centre because residents I've heard from have expressed a desire for more pickle ball and tennis courts.
Asked if they would like other amenities not included in the list of 20, 40.2 per cent of Jack Purdie respondents said they wanted to a skate park and 39.4 per cent said they wanted tennis courts. When the same question was put to Centennial Park survey respondents, 43.9 per cent said tennis courts, 41.2 per cent said skate park and 34.8 per cent went with a track.
Jack Purdie survey respondents favoured All Park Concept 1 and then All Park Concept 2 followed by Concept 3 Park with Housing and then Concept 4 Park with Housing. Centennial Park survey respondents selected Concept 1 All Park as their first choice, followed by Concept 2 All Park followed by Concept 3 Park with Housing, Concept 4 Park with Housing and then Concept 5 Park with Housing.
Jack Purdie survey respondents were asked if they would be “willing to pay more taxes to maintain our Town Parks?" 61.6 per cent of survey respondents said “Yes.” Asked the same question, 63.6 per cent of Centennial Park survey respondents said they would be willing to pay more taxes to maintain Town parks. I think the answers to this survey question illustrate just how much Amherstburg residents value parks and green space.
These survey results will be presented at tonight’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee meeting. Town Staff intends to analyze all the public and committee feedback and potentially revisit and revise the concept plans ahead of another round of public consultations scheduled for the autumn. These are your parks so please keep the input coming!