A blank canvas
By Chad Ingram
Published April 5, 2018
The purchase of a Prince Street property gives the Township of Minden Hills a perfect opportunity for a new civic space in downtown Minden.
Last week, councillors approved a contract for the municipality to buy the property, which fronts onto Prince Street and backs onto the municipal parking lot. Some residents may recall a home that once existed on the property burned down a number of years ago. It’s the same block where the Pritchard House and a rental home owned by the township also once stood. Those buildings were demolished in 2015. Currently, the only building on the strip of land is the Minden Hills fire hall, and when the new fire hall opens on Highway 35 in what should be short order, it will mean that the now-municipally owned chunk of land bordered by St. Germain, Prince and Milne Streets, as well as the municipal lot, will be available for a new purpose.
There will undoubtedly be some calls to simply enlarge the parking lot, providing extra spaces that would surely be much appreciated during the peak summertime days of July and August, when parking in the village can be less than ample.
However, while it may be utilitarian, parking is also incredibly boring, and would be a waste of space better dedicated to a community purpose.
There is relatively little public green space in downtown Minden. There is the Riverwalk pathway around the Gull River and the slice of the main drag that is the Village Green.
The newly created municipal property is the logical location for a small park.
The beauty of a park is that it’s an ever-unfinished project that can be added to, and changed over time.
Some benches, some gardens. Some nice public washrooms. Maybe a fountain. Maybe a gazebo or bandstand. Downtown Minden has no dedicated outdoor space for the performing arts. There’s often funding available to help municipalities with these types of projects. There’s also the opportunity to partner with clubs and organizations. Think of the rustic Rotary bandstand in Head Lake Park in Haliburton Village.
Speaking of Haliburton Village, the council for Dysart et al just gave the go-ahead to a project by the Sculpture Forest and Haliburton BIA that will see a changing roster of sculptures exhibited throughout the village. Essentially a seasonal art exhibit, it’s a great program and one that could be emulated in downtown Minden. A park at Prince Street would also provide space for such installations, and other public art.
While an expansion of the parking lot may come in handy for a couple of months of the year, a park would be used year-round, and would bring an increased sense of civic pride and vibrancy to downtown Minden.