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Editorial: Columbia park decision raises questions

The fate of the park has simply been pushed ahead until the budget debate for 2024.
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Yorkton Council decision to delay a decision on new park leaves question of why raise taxes to set aside for it? (File Photo)

YORKTON -  At the most recent regular meeting of Yorkton Council a park development behind Columbia School with a pump track at it’s heart was put on hold.

It was a decision that is worth a closer look.

To start with, the fate of the park has simply been pushed ahead until the budget debate for 2024.

What that means is there is a $1 million set aside for the project $300K from the 2023 budget that apparently will just sit there awaiting a final decision. For reference that $300K is roughly one per cent of the 3.93 per cent tax hike also announced at the same meeting.

So to start Council might want to trim that tax hike a chunk rather than have $300K going to a project in limbo.

Then of course another question arises as to where the money to cover inflationary costs associated with waiting at least a year come from.

Ashley Stradeski – Director of Finance with the city noted in the last year inflation has been sitting around the seven per cent, so if that continued on $1 million it would be about $70K that would need come from somewhere,

Now an argument can be made that the park development awaits an upcoming recreational plan. Which seems rather like a good idea, but then again this council spent millions on a golf course clubhouse, and has plans for ice plant upgrades at two arenas without that plan being in place, so perhaps it would be at best a very rough guideline as a tool for Council to use.

And, when it comes to envisioning recreation rough is likely the best a plan can be regardless of the good intentions of those creating it.

Good ideas come out of seemingly nowhere.

There was not a stock track in Yorkton, until there was. When it came to be it is doubtful most in the city envisioned a need for it? Or, foresaw the success it has had?

Before Brian Dudar thought it was a good idea, how many would have foreseen disc golf as something that would prove popular in the city?

How about the skateboard park? How many would have listed it as something that would be popular here – especially among voting age taxpayers?

How about the sudden arrival and growth of pickleball?

Of course not all sports thrive long term. Box lacrosse boomed and disappeared, as was the case with car drags at the airport, and interest in cricket was such just a few years ago interest existed in creating a permanent pitch, but seems dormant now at best.

And horseshoes went from a dedicated club to no pitches at all.

Even baseball and softball have experienced an ebb and flow in interest.

And, what of hockey long term. Does the SJHL exist long term as a major arena tenant? Repeated slips into red ink by the local Terriers might suggest not in the long term.

Do the costs of play and the demographics of new immigrants from countries where hockey is not a first love impact youth numbers?

How about football? Do parents shy away from their children involved in a sport that bangs their heads?

And what might emerge tomorrow?

Is walking basketball the next pickleball for seniors? Does ultimate find roots here like its disc golf cousin? Does cornhole catch on like it seems to have in many centres?

In the end the variables are likely too great for a rec plan to be more than a rough idea of what might be in the city’s future, leaving Councils of the day to make the decisions which of course is why we elect them in the first place.