Council met at a special remote meeting held October 14 and once more debated a laundry list of items, including a gas fireplace, that would form part of a Kent Park redesign.
Staff brought the list back to council for approval in order to prepare concept drawings, following similar discussions held on September 30. At that meeting, a community member urged council to get more creative with the redesign of Kent Park, and suggested that some sort of gas-powered fire feature could be added.
Staff included a stone fireplace with a natural gas insert among the items for council consideration. The fireplace would be located within a structure that would provide shelter from the sun and rain, council heard.
Council discussed the size of the covered structure and how it would look, as well as the fireplace itself, but not everyone was sold on the idea. Councillor Tim Withey questioned the feasibility of such a feature.
“What’s the cost of that? I mean, we’re going to be piping gas to it, we’re going to be spending taxpayer money on a fireplace… how does it work? Is it just on all day? Is there an on/off button that anybody walks in and turns on? That whole concept to me, I don’t think it’s very intelligent. It might look nice but for a public space and taxpayers’ money, pumping gas into that thing… I’m not prepared to have this on the list until there’s a lot more of those questions answered,” said Withey.
Director of infrastructure and protective services Steve Hernen said staff are looking at two options. One is to have the fireplace run on a timer system, and the other would involve the push of a button to have it run for a period of time.
“We don’t have the answers today because we don’t even know what this fireplace will look like and how exactly is it controlled and then the next question I hear exactly where Councillor Withey is going to go is how much is it going to cost us,” said Hernen, adding that information would not be available until the idea is firmed up.
Deputy Mayor Nancy Alcock agreed that that information should be sought before making a final decision about whether to include the feature. While Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano wasn’t so sure. “It was a wow factor, but I agree with Councillor Withey, I’m not sure how we actually make a gas fireplace work and I’m not really sure we can make it work. And I’m not really sure it makes the most sense.”
Councillor Brian Thompson seemed to like the idea, but not in the summertime. “Who runs their gas fireplace in the summertime anyway? I mean it would be a waste of time and money to be running it in the summer because it wouldn’t have any effect. It would be just a waste of time and money but hey, you know what, those things have switches. If we’re looking for something to make it seasonably effective then okay, we turn it on December 1st and we turn it off March 31st, simple as that. Otherwise, we have a nice looking fire structure there.”
Councillor Jason FitzGerald said he likes the concept and suggested how to run it and for how long as well as the safety details, should be left up to the experts to figure out. “I’m confused about the fact that we’re trying to worry about things that aren’t our area of expertise. Let’s let Steve do what he does and get the concept drawings and see if we like it.”
In the end, council made the following decisions: Remove the water bottle filling station in favour of locating it elsewhere, remove parking and a vehicle throughway from the park, minimize the size of the proposed park shelter from 20’x20’ to a size proportional to the layout of the park, and make it accessible.
The full list includes:
- Removal of the stage concept;
- Elimination of parking and vehicle laneways;
- Inclusion of large open areas to allow for people to gather for a small group function;
- Edges of the large hard surface gathering area are to blend into landscape features and not appear as geometric shapes (round or square);
- Inclusion of sitting areas on natural boulders (not cut stone);
- Inclusion of a shade/rain structure;
- A major Muskoka feature of a stone fireplace with a natural gas insert is to be placed within the shade/rain structure;
- Use of natural Muskoka materials when and wherever possible;
- Power supply controlled by photosensor;
- Power supply permanently available;
- The ability to incorporate lighting into the park to make it well lit and inviting at night time;
- Incorporation of large trees into the design to provide additional shade;
- Space for the relocation of the existing small information kiosk; and
- An overall Park design to complement the look of newly landscaped Main Street.
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