Brantford City Council unanimously approved a $15,000 expenditure for a summer celebration at Earl Haig Family Fun Park during their regular Council meeting on Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Councillor Mandy Samwell brought forward an amendment to a resolution originally moved during a Committee of the Whole meeting earlier this month.
Samwell’s original motion included directing City staff (if approved) to coordinate a community event with entertainment and attractions, and to waive entry fees for one day at the family fun park. It would also see City staff develop a community engagement campaign to help share memories and photos that highlight the facility and its history.
Staff debated the timeline of the park’s history and whether or not the celebration should take place this year to honour the opening of the original Civic Swimming Pool, or in 2029 to honour 100 years of the Earl Haig Pool.
Heated debates continued over the timeline and name before councillors voted 7-4 on Sicolis’ amendment to push the celebration to 2029.
On Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Samwell moved to remove and combine certain clauses within this item to better represent the intention of the upcoming celebration.
“I think that through taking into consideration the feedback from previous councillors, and also working with the Mayor on this, I think that what we have before us is something that we can all support tonight to allow the community to have the celebration that they deserve,” said Samwell.
Mayor Kevin Davis confirmed his assistance and noted that he thought the event would be a way to provide family fun.
“My take on the debate we had previously, was that a lot of it had to do with history and different versions of history. I think we lost sight of what was the essence of the resolution, which is to do a summer celebration for the southern part of the city and in particular, parts of ward five,” said Davis. “This is also due in part to a ward meeting I went to last week in Eagle Place. Hearing and speaking to some of the residents of Eagle Place, they’re feeling to some degree left out – second class citizens. They haven’t had a lot to celebrate down there as some other areas of the city have had, and I thought this would be a good way to provide a family fun celebration at Earl Haig Park. …,The focus of the resolution is really about that now, rather than a version of history.”
Samwell’s amendment striked the item’s focus on celebrating the history of the park and its possible 100-year anniversary, and now focuses on celebrating the establishments “uniqueness” and amenities for the community.
Earlier this month, Councillor Rose Sicoli and others originally expressed concern in putting on the event as a 100-year anniversary celebration, as there was a debate on the exact date they should be celebrating.
During the council meeting, Sicoli took the time to acknowledge the adjustments that were made.
“I am so happy with these changes. I think the issue from the original version was this false sense of historic value in that the history of Earl Haig is – for lack of a better term – convoluted, it’s such an interesting history,” she said. “I love the change of the word “history” to “uniqueness,” and I think this is great for morale for the community. I’m happy to support it, and I thank Councillor Samwell for the changes and I’m happy to support.”
Councillor Dan McCreary echoed Sicoli, saying he was also pleased with the updates made.
“I’m pleased as well to see the changes in this resolution from last we visited. I too am quite happy to engage in a celebration for the community at this site and at the price that we’ve cited here,” he said. “I think Councillor Samwell has done a pretty good job of listening to what was said at the Committee of the Whole, and tailoring this so that she can get unanimous support tonight. I will say that it’s not dissimilar from what we’re doing at Gretzky Centre where we’re celebrating community achievement there and when one looks at the need in South Brantford – especially for entertainment and for free events – I think this just ticks all the boxes for us so I’m happy to support it as it stands tonight.”
The approval comes with a $15,000 expenditure from Council Priorities to help cover the cost of the establishment’s loss of revenue in order to provide free entry for the event to be held this summer.