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Council struggles with Natasha’s father’s request

January 29, 2016   ·   0 Comments

What might have seemed like it should be a simple “yes” decision from Council, Duncan Paterson’s request to have Hyland Park renamed in his daughter Natasha’s memory became a sensitive issue on Monday night when history is taken into consideration.

Council, completely sympathetic to the grieving father’s plea for his daughter, who lost her life in a tragic accident during Fiddlefest activities last year, struggled to be sensitive to both Mr. Paterson and a similar and previously denied request by another area family who also grieved the loss of a child.

“By honouring Natasha would I disrespect that family who also grieve?” wondered Mayor Bennington.

Twelve-year-old Natasha Paterson, the only child of Duncan and Teresa Paterson, died tragically, as a result of injuries sustained when her horse reared and both fell, just before 1 p.m. on August 8, 2015 as they waited in line for the 65th Canadian Open Old Time Fiddle Championship’s parade to begin from its starting point in Hyland Park.

Natasha was airlifted to Headwaters Hospital and the parade was cancelled.

Natasha was a highly regarded student in the gifted program at Spencer Avenue Public School in Orangeville with plans to become a lawyer one day.

She was known for her willingness to help others and her love of animals, especially her “beloved horse Toby.”

When considering whether to name the new pavilion for Hyland Park, or renaming the park itself in Natasha’s honour, Mr. Paterson asked Council to remember that his “only child and daughter died in that park August 8…not in a car accident…in that park.”

“She died trying to put a smile on others’ faces in the Fiddle Parade, as she had for six years,” said Mr. Paterson. “She put her heart into it.”

In a response to The Shelburne Free Press Tuesday morning following the Council meeting, Mayor Bennington said, “The August tragedy ripped through our community and has left a wound that will never heal. No one in Town, including myself would object to honouring her young life in a way that we will never forget her.”

“The request from Mr. Paterson to rename Hyland Park in her honour is also a great idea,” Mayor Bennington continued. “My personal, emotional conflict with that idea is that a few years ago (2002), Lisa McKechnie died in a swimming pool incident.  She was a vibrant young lady (23-years-old) very involved in baseball locally. Her family came to council asking to rename Hyland Park in her honour.  Town Council, which I was a part of at the time, denied that request, and offered to rename the main ball diamond ‘A’ at Hyland Park, the Lisa McKechnie Ball Diamond.

“I struggle personally with angst that renaming Hyland Park after Natasha Paterson, although very fitting, and also very appropriate, may somehow offend the McKechnie family who have suffered the same loss. After discussion with members of Council last evening, I trust we will find a solution that incorporates honouring these young lives, both wonderful Shelburne girls, in a way that will be appropriate and everlasting.

At this week’s Council meeting, Mr. Paterson said he did not think anyone in the town would object to the commemoration for his daughter.

“Then Natasha’s name will live on,” he said.

“We want to honour Natasha and certainly we will…we just want to do it right,” said Randy Chambers, assuring Mr. Paterson.

Added Mayor Bennington to the grieving father: “If you give us some time…I think you will be pleased with the plans for the new Pavilion.”

Councillor Wade Mills put forth a motion to direct staff to put a plan in action.

“With the new ball diamonds, I think there is an opportunity [to honour both families],” he said.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bennington said Town Council is committed and “working towards a lasting and fitting tribute.”

“My thoughts are since we are schedule to rebuild the Hyland Park pavilion in the next year, that new Pavilion would be a nice way to honour Natasha,” he said.


By Marni Walsh



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