KITCHENER – Planned upgrades to Kitchener’s Elmsdale Park are being refined, after it was determined that the presence of existing underground landfill cannot support planned improvements including chess tables, a basketball court, ping pong tables, volleyball court and seating. The city will instead be looking to implement more passive park improvements at Elmsdale along with work to enhance the cap and update the venting system. 

“Prior to moving ahead with any proposed upgrades to any facilities, it is important to more fully understand the site conditions and history,” says Niall Lobley, director of parks and cemeteries. As part of the site preparations for Elmsdale, the city hired engineering firm MTE to undertake an assessment of the property. Their investigations confirmed that the majority of Elmsdale Park sits on land that was at one time a part of the former Kitchener Landfill. Because the former landfill was appropriately decommissioned, there is no health or safety risk to residents, park users or staff maintaining the park.

“While it is commonplace for decommissioned landfills to be used as parks, we now know they are more suited towards passive park amenities than structures,” explains Lobley. “Based on what we learned through the site preparation work and MTE assessment it would be inappropriate to move forward with the original amenities that were planned for the park as a result of community consultation. Staff will work with the community to look at other alternatives for the Elmsdale Park design while we upgrade the cap and replace the venting system.”

Elmsdale Park was one of two pilot participatory budgeting projects that gave residents an opportunity to decide how to spend an assigned budget on upgrading local parks. Residents selected a number of new amenities for Elmsdale. Some amenities that are no longer suitable for Elmsdale will be moved to the Chandler Mowat Community Centre down the street. Residents in the neighbourhood will have an opportunity to provide input on how amenities originally planned for Elmsdale Park, like a ping-pong table and edible forest, can be incorporated into the Chandler Mowat Community Centre property.

“While it’s disappointing that the original vision for upgrades to Elmsdale Park is no longer possible, I’m pleased that residents in the neighbourhood will ultimately have access to two newly upgraded public spaces that they have helped to design,” states Ward 6 Councillor Paul Singh.

City staff met with residents from the surrounding area and those who participated in the participatory budgeting process Wednesday evening to provide a project update. Work to incorporate amenities at community centre will begin in June.

The city will keep people living within close proximity to the park informed about the remediation work planned for Elmsdale Park. City staff will also look to reengage the community later this year to determine a more appropriate design for Elmsdale Park. The public can subscribe to the park webpage for updates as they become available at www.kitchener.ca/elmsdalepark.

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