Midland residents will celebrate Christmas on their brand new main street while staff work to expand the event Little Lake Park for next year.
The decision was made at a recent council meeting after staff brought forward a report looking into what could be done at Little Lake Park and what the Downtown BIA and Midland Civitan Club were willing to do for this year.
Coun. Bill Gordon still persisted in finding out from staff if some decorations could be put up at Little Lake Park.
“The BIA's letter asks for the town's resources and funds to pair with their own,” he said. “But this report speaks to only to the BIA, merchants and service club collaboration. Are they in a position to do this without additional town funds? How much does the town usually contribute towards the holiday event?”
Andy Campbell, executive director of environment and infrastructure, said the town pays to install the lighting downtown as well as staff time.
“The report mentions a Christmas tree sale event day,” he said. “Town staff would be available to help with that with coffee and cookies. We don't have a budget line item for decorations or things like that yet.”
Currently, Campbell said, there’s a brand new, very large tree in front of the library, installed as part of the King Street project.
“That tree was $10,000,” he said, “and I'm going to find money for lights for it without asking council."
Gordon then asked staff for additional details around the Santa Claus parade locations.
“The issue around discussions with other municipalities is how do we put together an event that is safe,” said Campbell. “We don't want people congregating. We want people to be able to travel around. Some municipalities are saying let's take a few floats to one part of the town and run others through other parts of town. Just so you can break the traffic up a little bit, even foot traffic.”
Staff, he said, doesn't have any of those details firmed out right now.
“It's really just the commitment from the BIA, Civitans and the municipality,” said Campbell.
One different feature down by the lake this year will be the opening of the roadway from King Street.
For that, Campbell said staff will have to grind out the speed bumps so the road can be plowed.
“The roadway at Little Lake Park is being opened all winter,” said Gordon. “Do we have to go to the expense of grinding out the speed bumps, when the speed bumps at the other end of the park don't seem to impede our ability to plow each winter?”
Campbell said that depends on the plows used.
“If we open up the whole street, we'd be using our large plows and those plows and speed bumps don't get along very well,” he said. “Going down Yonge Street you make a very tight turn and those speed bumps help cause the traffic to slow down. We also have to make sure we sand and salt that hill properly.”
Campbell said he didn’t want the town’s plows to be damaged turning that corner and hitting the speed bumps.
“The cost of getting temporary speed bumps and taking them out each year is less than the cost of repairing a damaged snowplow,” he noted.
Gordon then asked about the possibility of increasing the power outlets in the park.
“The staff has documented the five power outlets we have in the park,” he said. “The fact that the LED lighting draws very low current and can be supplemented by solar lighting, what can we do in LLP this winter, even if it's a small start on the larger project for more lighting in subsequent years? It's not to compete with downtown but to supplement downtown."
Campbell said that would require money to conduct a study and money to purchase lights.
Coun. Carole McGinn asked if there was an option for the residents to decorate the trees on their own.
“Would we be upset if a bunch of residents got together and decorate the trees in the park?” she said.
Campbell said he had no problem with people wishing to contribute and donate to the community.
Decorating the trees is another matter, he said.
“If people donate electrical lighting, it might not meet standards,” said Campbell. “We've got long electrical cords and kids and such. I'm concerned about it. When it comes to electricity, my risk radar goes up.”