I would like to respond to Allen Woodliffe’s letter regarding the history and the present best use of Rondeau Park.
I’m also very familiar with the past use of Rondeau Park, having enjoyed all of the benefits offered there during the past 75 years. I recall with fondness visiting the mini zoo, the many family picnics, fishing, swimming, enjoying the campground, and owning a cottage for many years (but not now), seeing the wild animals, birds and enjoying all the plants, flowers and the Carolinian forest.
Over those years, and even today, many families still enjoy using the park, together with the bird watchers and those who happen to enjoy the “48 legislated species” of plants that Mr. Woodliffe refers to.
Today, more than ever, there is a great need for all people to enjoy what the park has to offer. I strong take exception to Mr. Woodliffe’s comments that cottagers are not good stewards because they mow their lawns! Directly across the street from the cottagers are acres upon acres of plants and forest that can be enjoyed by all and remain undisturbed.
Over the years, Rondeau Park has offered facilities to be enjoyed by all people, including those who wish to camp there, use the beaches, go for picnics, etc. Perhaps those in charge can be accused of destroying precious plants when roads were constructed or when the campgrounds were created so many years ago.
Perhaps those who live in Chatham-Kent can recall an organization called ‘Rondeau Park For The People’. It challenged the provincial government of the day to allow the continued use of the park by everyone and not just a select few.
Over 6,500 local citizens signed a petition to this effect, and presented it to the government officials. Most of the municipal councils of Kent County, as well as Chatham city council, agreed with the petition.
Mr. Woodliffe seems to be overly concerned that the cottagers, campers and swimmers who occupy or use less than five to 10 per cent of all of the lands of Rondeau will somehow destroy protected species of plants by cutting the grass or walking on some of these precious plants.
I suggest to all of the good citizens of Chatham-Kent, and the province, to make it known to the municipal council of Chatham-Kent that this park is for the use of all people, including campers, those who wish to fish, swim, picnic, as well as to the remaining cottagers. There is lots of room for everyone to enjoy all the benefits this park has to offer, and yet even those select few who are entrusted in preserving the forest, plants and flowers. But this should be an inclusive group who are allowed to enjoy Rondeau, and not exclusive to a limited few naturalists.
And finally, let’s got that boardwalk (destroyed a few years ago) reconstructed.
And should our municipal council wisely decide to get involved with the Rondeau cottage lots, please find a way to reduce the entrance fee to the park so that we all can enjoy these facilities on a more regular basis and at a more user-friendly entrance fee.
John Van Raay