Early designs for the Windows on the Lake appear to get public support - local residents don't seem to be as impressed.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 13, 2015


There are some differences about what is meant by minimal – those differences appear to have feathers ruffled.

With the city having sold its parcels of land to the three property owners who abut what has been public land,  the concern now moves to just what the Windows on the Lake will look like.

A public meeting in March didn’t go all that well.

Janice Connell after delegating to city council i committee - She thinks she just might have nailed it!

Janice Connell after delegating to city council  committee – She thinks she just might have nailed it!

Janice Connell apparently made life difficult for a city staffer – so much so that a complaint has worked its way up to the office of the city manager.

Connell was the sole delegator for the three property owners who wanted to buy the portion of the old Water Street allowance that was at the edge of the lake.  She was very effective; she did her homework but seemed to need to tangle with ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward.

Windows map - Market-St paul-Green

Windows to the Lake were designed for three streets: Market, St. Paul and Green.

The intention at the public meeting in March was to have feedback from the public and then a Staff Report that would go to the Community and Corporate Services Standing Committee on June 16 and then along to Council on June 22nd for approval.

Windows Market st concept

Market Street has the most direct line of sight to the Lake – but at this point is the hardest to realize is public space. The design shown will make it very clear that this is public property – which is what has those living on the street upset. No mention was made of any signage.

Once approved, staff would prepare construction drawings, send the work out for tender after which construction will begin.

Somehow – we don’t think it is going to be quite that easy.

Windows St. Paul concept 1

St Paul Street has the longest stretch of public property which at this point has obstacles in place that make it pretty clear it is private property – which it isn’t. The design allows the public to get deep into the lot and appreciate one of the finest views in the city.

When the decision was made to sell the land Council agreed that there would be Windows to the Lake at the foot of Market and St. Paul streets – Green Street has been added.

Councillor Dennison was quite vocal at the time when he described what he meant by minimal – a bench and a can for garbage was what he appeared to have in mind.

Staff obviously didn’t get the message – their designs go quite a bit further – however they don’t appear to include any lighting.

The Burlington Waterfront Committee, a collection of citizens with representation from every ward have been tracking the discussion and comment on just what will be built on the road allowances that reach to the waters edge of Lake Ontario.

The group is what is left of the Waterfront Advisory Committee that originally brought up the problems surrounding the Windows on the Lake.

Rob Peachey, currently a manager in the Capital works department  attended that meeting  in 2012 and commented then  that this wasn’t his “favourite file”  The people who have private access to the lake aren’t at all keen on sharing it.

In an earlier article on that March meeting, which the Gazette did not attend, we reported that “The owners of property in the streets that lead to the windows are wondering just how much pedestrian traffic there will be and will people be sitting close to the edge of the lake at all hours of the day and how much noise will there be?

Discussions amongst the people who live on Market and St. Paul have taken place and they apparently now want to know just how minimalist are these windows on the lake going to be.

Will it be just a bench and a waste container? Welso reported that: “Some people are getting the sense that there is a push to get rid of the windows all together or to make them so inaccessible that no one will want to go near the things.

In that article we mispelled Janice Connell’s name and corrected that error.

In a response to us about the correction we made Ms Connell adds:

The mis-spelling of my name is not the only information that is incorrect.

The truth is we support the Windows-t0-the Lake at St.Paul and Market Street and have done so since our very first discussion with Ward 2 Councillor Meed Ward. in July 2012. At this meeting, one of the three owners offered to engage landscapers to clean up the area at end of Market St., enhance it as a Window-to-the -Lake for the public and maintain it at his expense. The public was never informed of this offer.

Our concern at the public meeting is the discrepancy between the wording of Council’s approved motion and what was actually presented and discussed. Council invested considerable time (including visiting the properties) researching this issue and they were clear in their motion …”minimalistic manner (bench and signage) at St Paul and Market St.”and the “enhancement of Port Nelson Park with available funds.”

In the presentation, Staff was asked about the motion including “enhancing Port Nelson Park with available funds.” Staff replied that this was not part of the motion. This statement differs from the wording in the motion.

You wouldn't know it - but this is public property and anyone can walk out to the end and look over the lake.  City will now put signage indicating that the land is public.  Great views.

You wouldn’t know it – but this is public property and anyone can walk out to the end and look over the lake. City will now put signage indicating that the land is public.   A portion of a driveway is apparently going to be taken – was that portion on public property?

Other residents had different concerns…locals from Green St. area were upset as they had no prior notification of the proposed Windows -to- the -Lake at the end of Green St. (Green St. Windows was not part of the approved motion.). There was heated discussions amongst residents as to what the “Windows- to -the- Lake” should consist of…bike racks, bench under trees in the sun, bench under trees in the afternoon shade, lighting, fences, garbage bins, walkways and shrub plantings .

One of the proposals for  St. Paul  included removing a portion of an elderly residents driveway.

Some of the dissension could have been alleviated if a copy of the approved motion had been available at the presentation for the public to refer to. The wording of the approved motion is …”develop Windows-to-the-Lake at St Paul and Market St in a minimalistic manner(benches and signage).”

Over the past few years we have had ongoing concerns over misrepresentation of the facts regarding the Water St parcel as presented to the public. This has caused dissension and hard feelings amongst residents. We attended the public meeting hoping it would be an opportunity to connect with our neighbours in a positive setting. Needless to say the meeting caused further dissension amongst many residents.

As you were not at the meeting, the information in your article is second hand information and is not accurate as it relates to information in the approved motion. Also the information given to you by your informed observer about the three property owners is not truthful. The property owners support the approved motion as to the development of the two Windows to the Lake. We have not and will not “try to get council to change their mind.”

Local parks should bring residents together. When less than truthful statements are given to the public it causes further dissension amongst residents. And unlike the simple correction of a misspelled name, it is not easy to correct the negative relationships amongst neighbours or the reputation of residents.

In reporting on the March meeting the Gazette spoke independently to four people who were at the meeting.



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14 comments to Early designs for the Windows on the Lake appear to get public support – local residents don’t seem to be as impressed.

  • Anna

    I still want to hear an explanation from any of the councilors who approved the sale of this land for WHY they sold it. It makes zero sense to me that this land was sold off.

    • C. Jester

      Unfortunately Anna you and I will never get to hear WHY they sold it. The fact that it was “our” (citizens’ and taxpayers’)land and that we were not even asked whether we wanted it sold speaks volumes to the power of our Council to act without consultation and without transparency. Frightening, isn’t it?

  • Joan

    I’m confused! When I read the approved Council motion it states “minimalistic manner, benches/signage.”
    Is the information presented from Mr. Rose a Parks Staff report? If so Council would have taken into consideration the information in the report prior to voting. Or does a Staff report override the 6 to 1 vote of Council for “minimalistic, benches and signage”?

    Lots of petty stuff going on over two small parkette areas in a neighbourhood that already has Port Nelson Park a few houses away. It seems greedy of the residents in Ward 2 to demand that all the money goes into the two small areas in their Ward especially as there is no parking at either of these windows. Wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the parks minimalistic (following ADOA guidelines) and investing more money into Port Nelson Park where there is ample parking and more Burlington residents would benefit. Not sure if PortN Nelson Park is ADOA qualified…if not that should be priority.

    I Hope Councillor Dennison fights for money for Port Nelson Park. I also hope Council continues to vote for what is best for all residents in Burlington and not for he few who already have a wonderful waterfront park within walking distance.

    Re the survey: Many Ward 2 residents, especially those with young children use Port Nelson Park. I think that if one of the questions on the survey was to follow the approved order of council…Windows to be minimalistic, benches/signage and enhance port Nelson Park that many Ward 2 residents would want this option.

    it is clear from Mr. Rose’s comments that residents outside Ward 2 have no input. This is unfortunate as there are many local residents east of Guelph Line within walking distance of these Windows. Now we not only have neighbours pitted against each other but a division between Wards. This has become very political and it is not benefitting the majority of local residents.

  • Brian Rose

    If we’re going to quote PR 31-13-1 of which option 3 was adopted 6-1 by council –

    Option 3

    Option Three – Dispose of Water Street Parcel and develop Windows-to-the-Lake
    This option would involve:
    • Selling the city and MNR water lots between St Paul Street and Market Street to the adjacent land owners
    • Creation of Windows-to-the-Lake on the existing St. Paul Street and Market Street road allowances

    The pros and cons of option three is as follows:
    • Access to waterfront would be formalized through two formally developed
    • Proceeds from sale of property could finance a portion of the Windows to-the-
    Lake implementation.
    • Clear demarcation of land ownership with the formalization of the Windows-to-
    • Risks associated with the shoreline protection becomes the responsibility of the
    • Resolves any potential legal issues as per confidential Legal report L-20-13
    • Issues of encroachments would be resolved
    • Development of Windows-to-the-Lake is a clear message to residents of the
    opportunity to enjoy the waterfront Cons:
    • Could be seen as inconsistent with Official Plan and Waterfront Trail Policy on public access and development objectives
    • No opportunity to establish a Parkette and waterfront trail with the sale of these public lands

    Definition of windows to the lake as defined in the adopted report

    Windows-to-the-Lake are described as small public areas located on city road allowances next to Lake Ontario or Burlington Bay; established to increase public access to the waterfront.
    Windows-to-the-Lake typically are developed with the following amenities:
    • Seating area(s)
    • Walkway connections to the community
    • Bike racks and refuse containers
    • Fencing or barriers to control access to the water
    • Parking located in the widow or on street depending on size, existing vegetation
    and configuration
    • Bollards or railings to keep vehicles on the road allowance
    • Signage to identify as Windows-to-the-Lake

  • Brian

    1. The AODA is law and we have a legal, moral and civic duty to support it. It defines what is minimalistic. We must make these this places accessible- read it for yourself – https://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/built_environment/index.aspx
    2. Jack Denison Does not represent or Ward 2 or minimalism – All the residents of Ward2 do!! We have spoken some have listened to the majority and the drawings for the windows have been created feedback pending.
    3. Green street is a also a window to the lake and almost everyone with very few exceptions want it cleaned up and pruned at minimum – it will be developed eventually why not now?
    4. The agreement as recorded was the funds from the sale of the parcels of land would be used to develop the windows to the lake. (Not Nelson Park) Unfortunately the land was sold for a pittance however the $200k + a tax increase once these houses are re-assessed as waterfront will leave the city with a recurring revenue stream

    Many neighbors have a degree of speechless admiration as to how the 3 residents somehow influenced council to sell the land for a pittance. However now is the time to enjoy their beautiful private view and let the rest of us have a say in our development of the table scraps we are so grateful to have!!

    It’s time for this unfortunate series of events to rest!! A survey will be coming around — Let the good people give their input and we’ll back it up with hard data from nearby residents not people outside our ward.

  • D.Duck

    “wording of Councilor Dennison in discussing/ presenting the motion both at CSC and Council meetings that, “the parkette at the end of St Paul St. be minimalistic i.e., a bench or two and a sign at the end, and ask staff to come back with a concept for Market St.” Mayor Goldring confirmed this by stating, ”that’s exactly where my head is, what Councilor Dennison brought forward”

    Eureka!! Here is the culprit. This passage from two members of council has been deemed sacrosanct by Ms. Connell and thus all members of council who held their silence must indirectly support this statement. Not a democratic council decision that was voted upon, but I do see where Ms. Connell has erred. When you’re right, you’re right. Hard to argue against this logic.

    Now, please let us read the in-camera session that coerced the council to over-ride the City Staff recommendations of not selling this land.

    PS: My congrats on a wonder land deal you acquired. I noticed two recent postage sized Beachway homes (not on the water) each sold for 3x the cost of your accumulated water front purchase deal was made for.

  • Janice Connell

    On October 15, 2013 Council approved the following motion:


    Approve Option Three as outlined in parks and recreation department report PR- 31-13-1 to dispose of Water Street land parcels and develop Windows–to-the-Lake at the foot of St Paul and Market St in a minimalistic manner (benches and signage); and

    Direct the Director of Parks and Recreation to report back with a concept for the Windows to-the-Lake; and

    Direct the Director of Roads and Park Maintenance to enhance Port Nelson Park with available funds.”

    The following comments (as viewed on the public webcasts) by Council members at the Oct 2, 2013 CSC meeting and the Council meeting Oct 15, 2013 provide further clarification as to the intent of the motion:

    It is clear by the wording of Councilor Dennison in discussing/ presenting the motion both at CSC and Council meetings that, “the parkette at the end of St Paul St. be minimalistic i.e., a bench or two and a sign at the end, and ask staff to come back with a concept for Market St.” Mayor Goldring confirmed this by stating, ”that’s exactly where my head is, what Councilor Dennison brought forward…I visited the properties twice …clearly Market St. has great potential…maintain lots of the trees. With regard to St. Paul St… it is already nice so my view is all you need is at the end of the street…a very small sign as you near the waterfront. It doesn’t have to be very big; you don’t want it to be seen from Lakeshore Rd. All you need is a couple of benches, we wouldn’t have to spend a lot of money to enhance that area.“

    There was also discussion re the budget/infrastructure and that it was important that the City spend a minimum amount of money on the Windows-to the-Lake, especially as Port Nelson Park was going to be enhanced and it was only three houses away.

  • marco

    Pepper, can you provide a copy of the motion?

  • Brian Rose

    I’ve bounced the proposed window designs off a number of residents (& an urban planner) and although some don’t believe bike racks etc may be necessary the walkways represent the legal bare minimum required to provide accessibility to those with disabilities and mobility issues. We tried to fight the disability act argument on Beaver and First Streets when the city installed sidewalks for the first time and many of us lost 10 feet of our front yards… it was a futile battle & in retrospect when I see people with mobility issues enjoying the sidewalk I relize I was a little blind to the need. Residents are excited about brush being cut and trees being trimed so we can finally view the lake as we pull out of our driveways in the morning, mow our lawns by the street, walk and talk to our neighbours etc. Providing the fencing is minimalistic and the views unobstructed residents on Market, St. Paul and Green and other streets in close walking distance will see a dramatic improvement in their neighbourhoods and likely their property values. My neighbours are a mixed bag including well educated professionals living in houses selling from $700K to 1.5 million (not to mention cottages) and they know and realize the true value of these windows and want them completed by the city as promised. I will be circulating a formal survey to all neighbours within approximately 400m of the Green, Market and St.Paul windows west of Guelph line. Neighbours Let me know if there’s any questions you’d like to see on this (within reason of a one page survey). I look forward to myself and my neighbours finally being able to quietly enjoying these windows. To the adjacent homeowner’s you are our neighbors and we’ll be looking out for your interest and ours by shuing away any riff raff and graffiti artists as they appear. Be sure to wave hello

  • New Age Carpetbagger

    “We attended the public meeting hoping it would be an opportunity to connect with our neighbours in a positive setting” said the spider to the fly.

  • Mr. Horrible

    I see that spelling is an underlying point of contention in this exchange between the Gazette and Ms. Connell. I’d like to take the opportunity to make a clarification to both involved; “mispelled” is an incorrect spelling as is “mis-spelling”.
    Perhaps the new “Window’s on the Lake” could provide for a serene environment for Mr. Wonderful to provide “schpelling and grammar lessons” for illiterate minimalists.

    • Mr. Wonderful

      Windows, not Window’s. What windows? We are talking about a dead end street that is not even a street. Good place for yoga, meditation, and star gazing, no lights, no chess tables, no garbage cans, and no benches. Maybe just a small diving board.

      • Mr. Horrible

        Stargazing, not “star gazing”. But, you got me! Not “window’s” or “windows” – jungle. When is a street not a street? When it is a Jungle on the Lake. Great for standing meditators, non-littering yogis and stargazing divers.

  • D.Duck

    The windows are owned by the City & thus are publicly owned land. Put up & maintain landscaping that will enhance the neighbourhood and invite the gentry to engage the vista that is our heritage. Benches, chess tables and a meandering pathway. Designated parking with appropriate lighting that will automatically turn-off at 11pm.

    As for Ms. Connell, I believe ALL material/documents pertaining to the selling of the water-front property should be made transparent to the public. This includes the above aforementioned report as well as the in-camera documentations that we are not privy not!