Central park is for all
As the chair of the La Pêche recreation commission, I would like to provide some clarifications regarding the article, “Central park for Masham?’’ (The Low Down, Jan. 13, 2021 edition).
First and foremost the central park is not for Ste-Cécile-de-Masham — it’s for all of the residents of La Pêche. This is a project that the recreation commission, made up of volunteer members and elected officials from our municipality, has been working on for more than a year as part of the parks master plan.
The key word in this project is ‘central’. While it’s true that the park will be in Ste-Cécile-de- Masham (it has to be somewhere, right?), the selected location has the advantage of being central for most of the residents of our municipality. For more than 70 per cent of the residents of La Pêche, including people living in Wakefield, Rupert, Duclos and Lac-des-Loups, accessing the central park will take at most 15 minutes.
It’s also worth mentioning there are a number of other elements that justified the choice of the site: the sidewalks, allowing access to the park by the route Principale; the proximity with the elementary and high schools, seniors’ residence and CHSLD, CPE and the Golden Age Club; and the construction of a future municipal and school library as well as the upcoming CLSC.
The vision of the recreation commission is to have a park that will benefit as many people as possible: from kids playing basketball or soccer to young adults playing tennis or walking their dogs, to seniors playing petanque and pickleball — there are so many possibilities worth exploring. The objective is to have unique sports and cultural infrastructure that will benefit everyone. As always, the success of such a large-scale project, which will necessarily be completed in multiple phases and require several years to accomplish, cannot be achieved without obtaining grants or partnerships from organizations or private companies.
In the 2019-2023 strategic plan, the municipal council adopted as a guiding principle the “Quality of life and community well-being,” including encouraging active living and healthy lifestyles, promoting a dynamic and vibrant cultural life, supporting active aging and intergenerational solidarity and encouraging citizen engagement. As strategic objectives, you will find “Create and enhance community spaces for gathering and socializing” and “Complete the park improvement profile and implement the resulting action plan.”
After the public consultation on the strategic plan and many discussions with constituents, it has been clear that our municipality lacks recreational infrastructure, especially for our families and seniors. We know that our residents are interested in this central park: more than 560 of them, from every corner of La Pêche, answered the survey to express their opinions. An official virtual public consultation on the parks master plan will be held in the coming months.
For too many years, there have been divisions within our municipality over well-needed infrastructure projects. I’m hopeful that the central park project will unite us for the common good of all residents of La Pêche.
Francis Beausoleil is chair of the La Pêche Recreation Commission, municipal councillor for Ward 3.