A longtime Dorset resident is trying to save what she considers an important park.
Daphne Curtis spent this past weekend in front of Robinson’s General Store and has gathered 180 signatures on a petition to keep Dorset Pavilion & Community Park running.
In 2021, the Township of Lake of Bays entered a 10-year lease agreement with a private landowner to maintain the park and its amenities. In July, Lake of Bays council narrowly voted to terminate the lease with six months’ notice and save roughly $8100 in yearly maintenance costs, as the park falls on the Algonquin Highlands side of Dorset.
“It’s just such a beautiful place, a wonderful place to sit. It’s a passive park, so not a lot of noise, although sometimes the children are there playing soccer which is always fun to watch,’ says Curtis. “It’s a real community spirit there. A lot of picnics go on, family get togethers. Not everybody is on the lakes, so it’s a place where they socialize. And of course the washrooms are extremely handy.”
Curtis’ petition asks the Townships of Lake of Bays and Algonquin Highlands to enter into a maintenance agreement for the park to keep it open, noting that some Lake of Bays facilities are in Algonquin Highlands, and vice-versa. She says residents are supportive of the petition for a number of reasons.
“A lot of them say ‘I heard about this and I just don’t understand.’ Another portion have never heard of it and they say to me ‘are you talking about the park that has the soccer nets? Our kids go over there and play soccer all the time’,” says Curtis. “Or somebody else said ‘is that where the washrooms are? This community loves those public washrooms’. Other people picnic there. When I go there, I nearly always see somebody.”
She says the landowner, Don Tapscott, also wants the park to continue and is “very supportive” of the petition, even helping her gather signatures. “His intention was to maintain it as a park, his heart and soul are in this park.”
According to Curtis, Lake of Bays Superintendent of Parks and Facilities Scott MacKinnon has agreed to meet with her, and she’s also hoping to meet with Councillor George Anderson, who supported keeping park, to hopefully get the item back in front of council.
Curtis will be once again collecting signatures in front of Robinson’s on Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 2:00 p.m. “I thought that’s enough of a time period for people to know what’s going on, but I don’t want to drag it on forever,” she says.