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Mulock Park project to come with $40M price tag

Capital and annual operating costs will be paid for through development charges and assessment growth from new homes, says Newmarket mayor

Newmarket’s largest capital project took another step this week toward becoming a reality.

During a special committee of the whole meeting on Tuesday, Newmarket councillors started crunching the numbers on a final draft master plan for the Mulock Park project as presented by PLANT Architect Inc. and town treasurer Mike Mayes. The $40-million project plans were received and endorsed during the meeting by council, however councillors asked for between 30 and 40 days to take an extra close look at the numbers before officially approving the project’s budget.

“This will have no tax impact because it will be from the assessment growth. It’s from tax dollars we receive from new homes,” said Newmarket Mayor John Taylor. “This is a growth project. This project, on an operational basis, will not impact existing homeowners and their taxes.”

Taylor said the capital costs are under the same principle, in that development charges (DC) from new homes will be paying for the green space, as is regulated by law.

“The construction of this park would largely be (paid for) by DC. That’s money we collect from developers every time a new home is built. We specifically collect a number of dollars as a promise to build parks and recreation for those new residents,” said Taylor.

“By creating this park, we are fulfilling that commitment,” he said.

According to figures provided by Mayes, the town currently has $22.3 million in parks and recreation DC that must be spent specifically on the Mulock Estate Development and another $12.4 million that must be spent on trails and parks.

Taylor also clarified that grants and sponsorships will be explored to offset some of the cost of the park.

In 2018, the Town of Newmarket purchased approximately 4.6 hectares of land from the Mulock family as the last remaining property originally known as the Mulock Farm, located in the northwest quadrant of Yonge Street and Mulock Drive. Through a master plan process, the town’s intention has been to establish an iconic, signature public park space that also celebrates the historic significance of the property.

The Mulock Park project is planned to include a variety of elements such as a historic garden, a Great Lawn, art studio, a riverine, a skating trail, splashpad and skating pavilion, conservatory and Diversity Gardens, a natural playground, and bike and walking trails. The Mulock House is planned for renovation to possibly add a cafe, however that part of the project is being kept separate for the time being.

To read our full story on the proposed design elements of the project, click here.

It is estimated that the design, tender and contractor procurement stages could be completed in 16 to 19 months, after which construction would commence on the elements as approved by council.

Construction is planned to take place in three phases over the next five years:

  • Phase 1: Parking/drop-off, entry bridge, historic garden, the Green, art studio and storage yard
  • Phase 1a: Skating and orchard
  • Phase 2: Riverine, conservatory, diversity and indigenous gardens, amphitheatre and artworks
  • Phase 3: Art, playground and maintenance garage

Multiple public consultations took place before finalizing the plan. The budget estimate does not include costs related to the Mulock House or offsite parking.

“This is not about 'can our annual budget handle this?',” Taylor said. “It’s not about if COVID-19 creates more difficult years. You can’t go to the development charge recreation and parks money and use it for COVID contingencies. It’s there for a purpose.”

“I believe we’re following through in a brilliant way on it. I’ll admit, it’s a very ambitious way,” he said.

As part of the project’s budget talks planned for a future meeting and based on questions by other councillors, Taylor also asked staff to provide a more detailed timeline on the phasing of the project, more details on alternative funding sources such as grants and sponsorships, as well as details on other projects that may be put on pause to make room for the Mulock Park project.

Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 11 years of experience to her role as regional reporter for Village Media, primarily covering County of Simcoe matters, education and features
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