Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Burroughs seems to have taken on her new position with her eye on change – in almost every area. Burroughs hasn’t been on the job for a full year yet, but she has already embarked on a facelift for the community centre in Vankleek Hill. Her office is located at Champlain Township’s headquarters on Pleasant Corners Road and a new administrative assistant works in her former office, while another room serves as space for the arena staff. She kicked the Champlain Summer Camp into high gear, has re-branded the Facebook page Culture et loisirs Champlain Culture & Recreation and on a personal level, has joined Champlain Minor Sports, the focus of which has changed slightly to help more young people take part in sports.
Despite all of these changes, Burroughs said her goal is to have what she does reflect a changing community.
“I am not set in my ways and I know that things are changing, and I also want everyone to feel as if all of these facilities belong to them . . . that they belong to Champlain,” said Burroughs.
Following two weeks of training from outgoing recreation director Janis Renwick, Burroughs took over managing seven parks, a marina, a campground and two reception halls.
“Everything was new and I was following someone who had been here for decades,” said Burroughs, who acknowledges that although it was stressful, it was a good way for her to learn by stepping in and figuring out things on her own.
A few highlights from recent changes:
Burroughs says she added her own twist to the summer day camp, which welcomed as many as 42 children some weeks. The summer camp, which ran for eight weeks, cost parents $125 per week and included outings, the possibility of a hot lunch at the canteen and full use of the community centre, the park, the outside slab (normally an ice surface during the winter), and the inside slab space.
“I really felt we were using the community centre to its potential,” said Burroughs.
Community centre updates
Calling it an under-used “great space”, Burroughs says that she organized some cosmetic upgrades to the space. Washrooms have been updated, barnwood-style cladding has been installed in the upstairs hall, new blinds have been installed on the windows which look out over the ice surface, new ledges have been installed upstairs and downstairs in the lobby (she is currently looking for new stools to put at the ledge for spectators), three big-screen televisions have been installed upstairs, the bar has been renovated (Beau’s is now on tap), recessed lighting, which can be dimmed has been installed upstairs, the small stage was removed, round tables have replaced the rectangular ones, the kitchen opening was closed, leaving only the door for access, and a new cloak room was added, with part of the old cloak room becoming storage. The upstairs has been painted and ceilings were also given a fresh coat of paint.
“I didn’t want piles of tables and chairs and a map in our cloak room. If people are renting this space, it should be clean and orderly for them,” Burroughs said. Small dollies now hold tables and chairs to reduce wear and tear on the furniture and on the floors, she said.
She has also organized a book full of offerings for those wanting to book space for special occasions. Caterers, photographers and more are organized for those wanting to rent the space, all local choices, she says.
Going forward, Burroughs is already thinking about Canada Day, Family Day activities and a winter carnival and making them work for both communities in Champlain Township.
“It might be transportation between the two communities, or taking turns hosting different activities, like the carnival, Burroughs said.
“I would love to see everyone supporting events in both communities, because both are in Champlain Township,” Burroughs said.
Burroughs also pointed out a change in the focus of the Champlain Minor Sports Association, a not-for-profit organization which, in the past, has assisted families who might not have been able to afford to pay for their children to participate in minor sports activities such as soccer and hockey. But now, says Burroughs, the funds will be used in a more general way to keep the costs down for everyone. Burroughs is serving on the board as a volunteer and feels that she should be involved, but wants to make it clear that the organization is separate from the municipality. Fundraisers and donations are always appreciated by Champlain Minor Sports. If you want to volunteer or make a donation, you can email: [email protected]
You can find Champlain Minor Sports on Faceboook here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1700235143595017/
Burroughs says she is always open to suggestion and will help volunteers find a personal fit if they want to get involved. You can email Burroughs at: lisa.burroughs