Burlington's Windows on the Lake - a sad history.

By Pepper Parr

May 7th, 2022



A Gazette reader wrote:

“Hi I’ve been looking down Green Street for more than six years hoping I’ll see a Window to the Lake pop up.

“I know Burlington doesn’t complete projects at the same pace as say Dubai.. But the pace on this project is glacial. I’ve heard all of the reasons high water, Canada 150 funding; I suppose now it’s COVID.

“I’d like to know if my neighbours are getting this long proposed park during our lifetime? Or will we be visiting Sweetgrass park learning about the Medicine wheel first? “

Our reader makes a good point. The Green Street Window on the Lake sort of got lost in the frantic shuffle that saw land along the edge of the lake shift from the hands of the city to three property owners who paid peanuts for the property and enhanced the value of their lots considerable – very considerably.

This is the view the three families bought – it was once public property

The blame for this crime and it was a crime does not rest with the people who bought the property. They saw an opportunity and went for it and out manoeuvred the city’s efforts which were pathetic.

There was a time when the city actually had a Waterfront Advisory Committee. One of the tasks they took on was to survey all the Windows on the Lake to determine just how many there were and what condition were they in.

Gary Scobie, far right, was a member of the Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee which was sunset by the city last December. Scobie went on to sit on the Ad Hoc Waterfront Committee. Nick Leblovic is on the right.

Our reports on that work by a bunch of diligent volunteers appeared in the Gazette.

The Chair of the Advisory Committee at the time was Nicholas Leblovic, a friend of then Mayor Cam Jackson.

A lawyer by profession and said to be an expert in his field which was the leasing and ownership of aircraft and oil rigs.

These assets were often owned by investors and leased to oil drillers or air lines.  Big business done at an international level and very lucrative.

Nick no longer practices law –  he didn’t last all that long as Chair of the Waterfront Advisory Committee.

The Mayor wasn’t happy, some members of Council weren’t happy – a Staff report was ordered up and the conclusion was that the Advisory Committee should be sunset.

Leblovic is a political junkie – he loves the game and always wants to be at the table.  He is reported to be a part of Mayor Meed Ward’s re-election committee.

The St. Paul window above and the Market Street Window on the left.

The work the Advisory Committee did however worked its way into the agenda and in time a report came to council with some commendations on what to do wit two of the Windows on the Lake – they were at the bottom of Market Street and St. Paul

The options were:

Do nothing
Develop the Waterfront Trail a little further or
Sell the property.

It was never clear just who signed off on the report and let the Sell the Property be an option.

All the land inside the yellow border was public. The city sold the piece in the middle and in the process took from the people of Burlington a gem.

The option was just enough for the three property owners along the edge of the property to make an offer which was accepted and the land was then in private hands.  It was owned jointly by the city and a provincial ministry.

Peter Rusin did a superb job for the three property owners who bought up what was going to be part of the Waterfront Trail

The family’s hired Peter Rusin, who went on to run for the office of Mayor, but before that put together a document that set out in considerable detail an argument for selling the property.

All that was sold was the land between the Windows on the Lake.

Today those two windows are publicly accessible and a really nice place to sit and read and while away part of a day.

Our Gazette reader wants to see the same thing happen to the window at the bottom of Green Avenue.

Be careful what you ask for

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