By Mike Baker
The Haliburton Highlands Nordic Trails Association (HHNTA) is keen to move forward with plans to build a new three-bay garage and clubhouse in Glebe Park.
The organization presented preliminary plans to Dysart council on Tuesday, June 22, showcasing some of their ideas for the site.
HHNTA was forced, last year, to look into alternative sites to house a new garage after Dysart council agreed to gift the land where the association’s current garage sits on to Fleming College. The land in question will be used to build a student residence complex.
As part of that agreement, the municipality committed to replacing the association’s garage at no cost to HHNTA.
Mike Darlington, a member of HHNTA, said the association was hoping to use this as an opportunity to increase their footprint in the community, and include an indoors warming space in any conceptual design of a new garage. This space, which will double as a clubhouse, will be paid for by the association, and will help to sustain the group, which has seen considerable growth in recent years.
“HHNTA began building and maintaining ski trails in Glebe Park 40 years ago. Around 30 years ago, we built our three-bay garage to store equipment, and about 20 years ago we began using a bandshell as a bit of a clubhouse for our jack rabbit program for kids,” Darlington said. “We stopped using that bandshell three years ago due to deterioration of the structure. A functional, safe clubhouse is vital to our jack rabbit program – one of the most affordable outdoor youth recreational programs in Haliburton County.”
He added, “That program alone has grown by more than 25 per cent this past season, a trend we expect to see in future years.”
Adam Brady, another association member, is a licensed architect and has put together some initial designs for the potential site, located near the baseball diamonds. He says the association is trying to create a building that allows itself to be adaptable in the wake of ever-rising costs and decreased availability of materials.
“For the most part, we’re looking at wood siding, wood accent and maybe throwing some steel siding on there as a feature,” Brady said.
Mayor Andrea Roberts indicated the next steps would be gathering up estimates for construction costs, so that Dysart knows how much it will be on the hook for, and HHNTA knows how much it will have to come up with to fund the clubhouse component of the project. She said staff would begin work right away, with a view to getting an estimate back to council by fall. She hoped everything would be in place so that construction could begin next spring.
Ward 4 Coun. John Smith wondered why the municipality was in such a rush to push the rebuild through. He said council should take its time and assess where this project fits in with other priorities Dysart has heading into 2022.
He mentioned too his hope that staff would err more on the side of caution when coming up with estimates for the garage.
“Hopefully we get multiple estimates – [I’d like to see] a basic garage structure rather than a grandiose one. A garage is a place where some equipment can be stored,” Smith said.
Given that Glebe Park is one of the community’s most popular attractions, Ward 1 Coun. Nancy Wood-Roberts expressed her wish that any new build fits the atmosphere of the park.
“I don’t want something that’s not aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t fit with the theme of Glebe Park,” Wood-Roberts said.