It’s turning out to be a pretty small Dutch treat – Elgin Park will have an Apeldoorn “feature” but no name change.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  July 18, 2012  Arnold Koopman has a problem.  He is organizing a visit of a group of dignitaries that will include the Mayor of Apeldoorn, Burlington sister in Holland, to take part in the official opening of a park that he understood was to be named the Apeldoorn Park.

The name of the park that is to be officially opened is currently the Elgin Park.  No one knows why the park, that is to undergo a major upgrade, was called Elgin – probably because it is on Elgin Street.

Tulips, Hollands gift to Canada, were planted at Civic Square last May. The Dutch would like to see a park commemorating the sacrifice Canadians made liberating Holland. An opportunity to do just that got missed last week. The Dutch should hold out for something bigger.

If what we heard at a city council meeting was correct – there are no plans to change the name.  Koopman doesn’t want to invite all those people from Holland in the fall of 2013  to stand there watching the flag of Apeldoorn be raised over the Elgin Park which will have what the city is calling an “Apeldoorn feature”.

This has the potential to be somewhat embarrassing but that’s where things stood at the last city council meeting and that’s where they will stay for at least the next six weeks.

Ed Dorr has been a leading part of the Dutch community’s effort to have a park named after our twin city in Holland. He’s not there yet – but don’t count these people out.

Apeldoorn and Burlington were twinned in May of 2005.  The work on twinning the two cities began in 2003 – October 16, 2013 will be the tenth anniversary of the start of the talks.   May 2015 will be the tenth anniversary of the agreement.  The Dutch community in Burlington might well tell the city to let the Park they are re-developing remain as Elgin while they find a park that is worthy of the significance of the relationship between Holland and Canada.

The kerfuffle came about when the city found it had to replace the Roads and Parks Maintenance structure that is to the east of the very small parkette that is south of St. Luke’s Anglican church.

At the time the city decided that if they were replacing the building this was a good time to  upgrade the park as well. Then why not use this park upgrade as the opportunity to create an Apeldoorn Park?  Good question and so the city began to work up plans to remake the park, get the new maintenance building in place and do our part of the understanding that existed between Apeldoorn and Burlington for each city to have a park dedicated to the other.

When all this was being discussed at city council Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward was against the project – she called it one of those “nice to have” projects we couldn’t afford.  But Meed Ward saw which way the wind was blowing and didn’t see any point in fighting this one – so she became an active advocate for the park and was knee deep in the planning.

But there was an appetite for the park to have at least an “Apeldoorn feature” so the plan went forward – but no one ever did anything about the name.

It was a bit of a shock to the Dutch community.  They were fully expecting a nice Park that would be called the Apeldoorn Park.  They weren’t getting much of a Park to begin with – it’s almost a sliver of a thing.

Arnold Koopman left city hall wondering what his adopted city was doing to his people.

The Dutch are a persistent people – city Council has not heard the last of this argument.

There was one of those opportunities to cement a relationship with an important part of the community – but we blew that one.

The discussion went back and forth and really didn’t go anywhere.  Mayor Goldring then asked Koopman if he would be happy with calling it the Apeldoorn Park on Elgin.  Koopman grabbed that one, but Goldring failed to turn the comment into a motion – and so it’s Elgin Park until somebody does something about a name change.

Councillor Blair Lancaster at the Mundialization ceremony at city hall last May – there was a chill in the air and there may be a bit of a chill from the Dutch community around the delay in naming a park for our twin city in Holland.

It would have been nice to see Councillor Lancaster fight a little harder for the Dutch community.  She is Council’s representative on the Mundialization committee that handles the relationship we have with Itabachi in Japan and Apeldoorn in Holland.

I think the Dutch should tell the city to keep their tiny park and advocate for something that reflects the contribution the Dutch have made to both Burlington and the whole of Canada.

The city of Apeldoorn has put back their plans to build a park they are going to call the Burlington Park.  Economic conditions in Europe are such that spending is being pulled in everywhere – so we have a couple of years to come up with something that reflects the dignity the relationship we have with Apeldoorn deserves.


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