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Rotary proposes new welcome centre

By Joseph Quigley - Staff Writer-The Highlander |  May 30, 2019 The Rotary Club of Haliburton is planning to bring a new $250,000 washroom and welcome centre to Head Lake Park.  The club presented its plan May 28 to Dysart et al council, who voted to partner for the effort. Besides washrooms, the facility is also proposed to act as a centre to offer tourist information, taking on the role from the CNR Caboose. Club director Andrew Hodgson said the idea was a natural fit for a 75th anniversary project.  “We kept coming back to this beautiful park, that’s a beautiful signature piece of our community, has outhouses,” Hodgson said. “We thought a combined washroom welcome centre would be used for all the different events and also enhance tourism.”  Rotary is committing up to $75,000 toward the project, with the remaining money coming from any available upper government grants and municipal funding. Hodgson said the facility details are preliminary and can still be worked out with the municipality. However, he sought approval in principle to apply for a federal grant which is giving preference for applications made by May 31. “As a Rotary Club, we can certainly help lobby in the sense of getting the community behind it,” Hodgson said. “We can help promote this as a good vision for us as a shared community.”  The club is proposing the facility be fully accessible and have six gender-neutral washrooms. Hodgson also said the facility would include change rooms, which could potentially be used for a splash pad in the future. Coun. Larry Clarke, who also chairs the events and programming committee, said this project would be critical for improving the area for events.  “What we’re seeing is one of the big impediments we have for Head Lake Park right now is we don’t have proper washrooms,” Clarke said. “This is a key component for us to move forward with the park area.” However, Coun. Walt McKechnie expressed concern about costs.  “It’s a great idea but I think I definitely don’t want to jump into committing to it,” McKechnie said. “It’s going to be a lot more money than we realize to do a washroom. There are horror stories about how tough it is to build.”  Coun. John Smith said the initiative addresses a big problem but the township would need to consider how the operational expenses are covered.  “We’re going to have to figure out a model that’s going to allow us to pay for this thing because it’s not going to be cheap,” he said. “There’s a lot of complexities.”  Deputy Mayor Patrick Kennedy said the details could be worked out between the parties over time.  “It’s exciting. I think we’re all pretty much in agreement in principle about washrooms and the park,” Kennedy said. “Whether we agree or disagree with the location of it or the square footprint, that’s irrelevant at this time.”



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