Bracebridge’s Town Crier Bruce Kruger says an annual arts and crafts show held at Annie Williams Park is damaging the park.
This week he brought his concerns to the park’s board, suggesting the show’s venue be switched to the JD Lang Activity Park at the Bracebridge Fairgrounds.
You can read his letter to the park board in its entirety below:
Further to our discussion today regarding the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Show, this show was originally commenced at either the Bracebridge Memorial Park or Jubilee Park. I forget which it was, however, they had outgrown their previous venue and moved to Annie Williams Park. Although this Show is a tremendous tourist attraction, bringing many thousands of people into the community, it has now become a severe detriment to the parklands of Annie Williams threatening its beauty and useful to others.
With over 200 art vendors plus food vendors, it requires a large number of port-a-potties and increased parking for the many vendor trailers. Due to the construction of the one lane system at both ends of the park, traffic is continuously severely backed-up not only onto Santa’s Village Road but throughout the complete region of Wellington Street out towards the 532 Mall. It is causing gridlock throughout a large area of the town.
With or without the usual rains, the park lawns take a tremendous beating from the vehicles continuously parking on the grassed regions. Any rain creates a slickness on the grass forcing many drivers to gun there tires leaving large black muck areas. On the other hand, if it doesn’t rain, the traffic packs the grassed areas so tightly, that it now holds rainwater creating ponding in various areas.
I have witnessed an ambulance last year attempt to gain entry into the park for a medical emergency. Not only was it difficult for the first responders to gain access through the town with its siren and lights, it was painfully difficult to get the ambulance into the park and over to the patient. In such emergencies, minutes count and it was like running a gauntlet for the emergency personnel.
The annual repairs to this park, forced to be undertaken because the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Show, is costly to everyone regarding money, beauty, refurbishing times, maintenance increases, etc. Other users of the park, annually must address and put up with the terrible condition of the worn down grass, ruts, holes, safety issues and they must simply put up with the ugliness of the grasslands.
Some vendors were ankle deep in water and tourists were not coming into some exhibit areas because of the water and mud. The muck also made it very difficult for the merchants getting their vehicles and trailers to their assigned location, to unload their wares, and then back out again. Most need or desire to unload at their booth because of the size and number of items they are showing.
In view of the lack of safe, proper parking suitable in good and bad weather; the tremendous damage done to the park each year by the high volume of vehicles parking; and the seriousness of traffic congestion both inside and outside of the park, I believe that the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Show be re-allocated to James D. Lang Park. That is the proper venue for such a large exhibition but in the meantime, I believe it is imperative for Council to restrict the current use of the park pertaining to large numbers of vehicles permitted onto the grounds and ban parking in the lower grass lands in particular. This needs to be done, forthwith. MACS should immediately commence arranging with the Town to select and save J.D. Lang Park for upcoming years for the Show’s future.
Expect discussion about Kruger’s concerns around the Bracebridge Council table in the near future. (Photo via Bruce Kruger)