Re. Gates Lake recreation centre.
The present facility is an unattractive house sitting on a sloping weedy lot purchased with a lack of public input. A facility so inadequate that a meeting regarding its future could not be held on site. Sell it.
The fire hall site should be reconsidered. There is a sufficiently large flat area which is not under the power lines where separation between the two facilities is possible. With planning, disruption to fire department operations would be unlikely.
Operation and maintenance costs would see reductions as a result of both facilities on one site. Renovation of the old log school house presently on the fire hall site should be considered in building proposals.
The school was built by members of the community to fulfill a need circa 1920 and has significant heritage value. What better focal point could a community recreation facility have?
The old school house presently sits in a state of disrepair. Regardless of outcome, the old school should not be allowed to slowly rot away.
Having raised children in Birken I desired a large flat smooth surface (aka concrete slab) with a roof over it and a source of warmth. I propose an open log structure roof and concrete floor with a fire place at one end adjacent to the renovated school house.
Arts and entertainment, markets, basketball, soccer, street hockey, potentially ice skating and a meeting room with historic value in the renovated school house are some of the possibilities.
Recreation planning should attempt to be as inclusive as possible with potential for multiple user groups. If you need a key to use the facility it becomes more exclusive. A locked house has no recreation potential.