Residents hope Kitchener will work with them
​to save popular tobogganing hill

Lara Romanow, left, started a petition to save the tobogganing hill by Meadowlane Public School. It has over 1,600 signatures. The hill is also used in the summer by walkers, for fitness and for cycling. With Romanow are her daughters Elise Flynn and Lena Flynn, and husband Rory Flynn. Photo by Helen Hall
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by Helen Hall
Kitchener Citizen
February 9, 2023

​​​​ Some members of the Forest Heights community are rallying to save Mount Frederick.

​​The 50 year old recreational hill could be razed and replaced with a stormwater pond that the city plans to install on land it owns close to the Meadowlane Public School playground.

​​The hill was named Mount Frederick not long after Meadowlane was opened in 1972. Students named it after their first
​principal Ivan Frederick.

​​Lara Romanow’s twin ​​girls are too young
​to attend the school yet, but a petition she
​started to save the hill has 1,600 signatures. Romanow is an educator and believes it is ​important for children’s physical and mental health to have free recreational activities in their neighbourhood.

​​She said that an “aftershock” of the pandemic has been an increase in mental health issues in children.

​​ Romanow said that students experienced insecurity during the pandemic because of “rapid change” in their lives. She feels that taking away a recreational facility that they rely on is another blow.

​​“Lots of kids have really cherished memories of that hill,” Romanow said.

​​Romanow understands that drainage solutions are necessary and hopes the City of Kitchener can find another solution for their neighbourhood.

​​She said some homeowners are concerned about having a large, unfenced pond in their recreation area.

​​ Nick Gollan, Manager of Planning and Programs for Sanitary and Stormwater, said the Meadowlane stormwater pond is part of a larger plan in the city for upgrading stormwater management. He said that 25 percent of communities built in the city have good stormwater management systems and the remainder do not. ​​The city is working on improving stormwater management in those areas of the city.

​​Gollan said that creating a pond is one of six strategies the city has to improve stormwater management. Meadowlane suited the creation of a pond because it is “technically feasible” in that location because the city owns the land and it is at the low point of the drainage area that is about 125 hectares around the pond.

​​Water will drain there from impervious surfaces including roads, parking lots and roof tops.

​​While controlling flooding is one function of a stormwater pond, Gollan said there are also important for environmental reasons. Water that accumulates in the pond will drain through the land before it reaches the nearby Sandrock Creek. As it drains through the ground, some of the oil, salt, sediment and asphalt from roof tops that is in the water is removed. The water is also colder when it reaches the creek, which is better for the wildlife that lives there. It also slows down the volume of the water going through the creek.

​​ Gollan said stormwater ponds are generally unfenced, but it could be fenced if it were important to the community. He said generally they are surrounded by tall plants and have “gentle side slopes” so it is not a steep drop if anyone enters.

​​Gollan said “the message has been clear” from the community that they would like more say in the project.

​​ Ward 7 Councillor Bil Ioannidis agrees with Gollan.

​​“We have heard loud and clear that the amenities inside the park are important,” he said in an interview.

​​He said he “wholeheartedly” supports residents and hopes to find a way to deal with the stormwater issues and save the hill.

​​Ioannidis said the final decision has not yet been made.

​​City staff have been asked to come up with four alternatives for the Meadowlane stormwater management project and that one of those alternatives includes keeping the hill.

​​More structured meetings are planned for indoors in the spring with designs being displayed and city staff on hand to answer questions.