Lions Park sold to the city - Club Hall and ROCK facility not part of the sale

By Pepper Parr

January 29th, 2022



City of Burlington purchases Lions Club Park property

There are two parts to this story.

Part 1: The news that the City has completed an agreement with the Burlington Lions Club to purchase part of their downtown property located on Pearl Street which is known as Lions Club Park. The purchased land is approximately 1.8 acres.

Part two:  Why was the land sold at this time?

That is an interesting story.  Service clubs, at this point in time, do not have growing memberships.   The men and women who would normally become members don’t have the kind of time for their personal growth and community participation activities – times have changed.

I had a good conversation with a member of the Lions club who was able to explain how and why the property was sold and what they will do with the funds – which were substantial.

In the media release the city said: “The acquisition of this property means that acres of green space will remain in public hands in perpetuity. Preserving and expanding parks is a key strategic land priority for the City of Burlington in developing and implementing our parks master plan.

“The sale to the City of Burlington does not include the property that houses the Reach Out Centre for Kids (ROCK) and the Lions Hall.

“The name of the park will remain Lions Club Park.

“The Burlington Lions Club was chartered in 1925, and has served Burlington and area ever since. Lions provide community services, such as the Farmers’ Market, and make donations to youth sports clubs, student awards, hospitals, other health providers, community services like food banks, and much more. Its motto has been, is, and always will be: “We Serve”. New members and volunteers with a desire to help their fellow citizens are always welcome to join us.”

The Farmer’s Market has served the community for decades.

The property is in ward 2d Councillor Lisa Kearns said: ““Residents continuously advocate for preserving and increasing green space, this agreement with the Lions Club shows we are committed to maintaining a sustainable and livable Burlington. As the area Councillor, I share this remarkable achievement with everyone involved to protect and grow green spaces, especially in our downtown  .

‘Many may be just learning that this was privately owned land, the City’s acquisition of this property will now preserve Lions Club Park for residents to enjoy indefinitely. I would like to thank the Burlington Lions Club for their continued partnership, their work in our community and support of the City’s goals through this sale.”

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, who lives a stone’s throw from the park said: ““The city’s purchase of Burlington Lion’s Club Park preserves this vital urban green space for our residents now and in the future, and it provides an investment to the Lion’s Club that they will return to the community from proceeds of the sale. This purchase ensures the Lion’s Club, now in its 97th year, can continue serving our community, and the surrounding green space will be protected – a win-win for everyone.”

Bob Hilton, Chair of Lions Negotiating Committee added: ““Burlington Lions are extremely proud of the far-sighted Lions who purchased this property back in 1929, and of our members’ determination to be good stewards of it for the 92 years since.

“This agreement enables the Lions Club to provide expanded service to the community for many years to come. It also ensures that the area will remain as a park for future generations to enjoy, as envisioned by Council in 1991 and by Lions continuously since 1929. As with all agreements between Lions and the City of Burlington, this is a win-win-win for both parties and for all citizens of Burlington.”

• An agreement with the City of Burlington leading up to the sale was put in place in 1991, followed by a further agreement in 2002 on a formula that specifies a substantial discount from the appraised value at the time of sale to the City.

Now owned by the city – it will remain a park forever.

The Lions have been serving the citizens of the city in some really interesting ways.  Perry Bower talked of the time when the Lions paid for tonsillectomy procedures for children of families who could not  afford it.

The Lions, being the very prudent stewards they are began to think about what they would do with the funds.  They talked with the Burlington Foundation about having them manage the funds and came to the conclusion that the Foundation model didn’t serve their needs and have decided that they will invest the funds and use the interest those funds earn to fund new projects.

Perry Bowker

At this point Perry Bowker said he had no idea what they might decide to do.  “We might decide to increase the awards that are given to high school students – whatever we do will be decided by the Board.

The Lions no longer sponsor bingo games, the hall rentals have been nil for the past two years.  The Farmers’ Market produces revenue but that too is changing.  The produce sales business has been heavily impacted by Covid19.

The Cenotaph might need some work in the future.  Bowker was quick to add that he was talking as a member of the Lions Club – “the board makes all the decisions”.

There are 75,000 Lions Clubs around the world with more than 100 in the GTA.  The organization has five focus areas.  Sight, an initiative that goes all the way back to Helen Keller who had an immense impact on how the blind were served; health issues, children’s cancer; diabetes, and other youth programs.

The $700 award given to high school students – both Catholic and Public might be increased.  The award is sent to the high school and they decide who should get the funds.  The Lions don’t intrude – they let the high school make the decision.

Bowker did mention that the Burlington Lions had experienced a small bump in membership recently.

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3 comments to Lions Park sold to the city – Club Hall and ROCK facility not part of the sale

  • Bill S.

    I hope the City has plans too have another condo building there. Perfect place for one, I’m sure i” be buying a couple there.

  • perryb

    slight correction – the discount was significantly more than 30%.

    The Editor’s asks: Do tell Mr Bowker was it 50% and what was the assessed value of the property. Why the secrecy?

  • Mr Bean

    Maybe I missed it. What did we pay for this land?

    Editor’s note. The amount paid by the city for the parkland was never disclosed other than the Lions agreed to a discount of 30% of the assessed value with the stipulation that it be a park in perpetuity.