If it ever gets built it will be an extraordinary park; no budget allocation yet, and Lakeshore Road in front of the new hospital has to be rebuilt - and those homes have to go as well.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

May 3, 2015


Part 1 of a multi-part series

There is still a lot of wind in the sails that drive the arguments about what should be done with the homes in the Beachway. While the current Council seems content to let things continue with the policy of having the Region getting possession of the properties on a willing buyer/willing seller basis – when it is patently obvious that there is just the one buyer – it is going to be sometime before the public sees any actual park construction taking place.

Beachway meeting April7-15 full house

It was a public Meeting to show off a new park for the Beachway – it got high-jacked by the people who live in the homes that have to be torn down to make the park possible.

From a policy perspective – not much is going to happen until funding for the park is in place. That may not happen before the end of this term of Council. There is some work that can be done before the completion of the hospital in 2018. The rebuild of Lakeshore Road won’t get started until the hospital is close to ready to take patients.

The park design itself isn’t something the public, for the most part, knows very much about. City hall has done a terrible job of informing people.

There were a little over 75 people at the presentation, Cogeco had a camera in the room and there were more than 15 staff members from the Region and the city telling everyone how wonderful this was.

The Gazette obtained a copy of the presentation that was made before maybe 80 people earlier this month. Unfortunately most of the time that evening was taken up with what is going to happen to the homes. The actual park design didn’t get the intention it deserved.

We set out below a number of the illustrations to give the public a better sense of what the city and the Region have in mind.

McIlroy + Stirling Todd

Anne McIlroy,the planner who led the team that designed the proposed park and Stirling Todd, the Regional Planner overseeing the development of the park for the Region.

The design was prepared by Anne McIlroy and Associates, a Toronto firm that has done a lot of work for the city in the past. They were the firm that headed up the Character Studies for the Indian Point community, Roseland (that one is still working its way towards a conclusion) and a third study that will be done on the Shoreacres community.

The people who attended the public meeting on the Beachway park design were taken through a good presentation.

The presentation started out by explaining that the “The Burlington Beach Regional Waterfront Park is an extraordinary resource in the Region and the city, and a major source of pride that contributes significantly to the identity and culture of downtown Burlington.”

And if the park every gets built and look anything like the plans the public was shown – it will be extraordinary. But they are not there yet.

“It is an inviting and publicly accessible waterfront park” explained Anne McIlroy, “that supports a range of recreational, educational, cultural and tourist opportunities, while respecting its environmentally sensitive and complex ecosystem. New and enhanced park uses, activities and facilities will be carefully balanced with the need to protect and preserve and restore the unique natural beach and dune features.”

She added: “Improvements to Lakeshore Road and the Waterfront Trail will enhance connections to the broader community and support healthy living through the promotion of active transportation.”

Active transportation is a stretch – getting people in and out of the park will be a challenge. Shuttle buses are proposed and that is part of the solution – where the cars that brought people to the shuttle bus embankment point will park is not set out in the plan.

Enough of the complaints and concerns: Let take a close up look at the plan and you decide what you think.

Beachway - Full park

What was once a vibrant but run down at the heels community that had houses yards from the railway line that once rant along the edge of the lake is to become a Regional Park with five distinct areas. If it ever gets built Burlington will become a significant destination for people who want to spend time near the water – another Wasaga Beach?

The vision starts at Spencer Smith Park in the east and includes some changes to that park as well.

Master Plan areas

There are really six different parks rolled into one park that people can move through freely.

The Master Plan has six areas. Working from the west there is the Skyway, Wind Beach and The Commons.

Then there is the Strand which is where most of the water based activity will take place. Working east there is the Living Shoreline that will focus on protecting the environmentally sensitive parts of the Beachway and then Spencer Smith Park itself

Beach typologies

The typology of the land lakeside of Lakeshore Road is environmentally sensitive with plant life that doesn’t exists anywhere else. It is also a dynamic beach whose sands shift over time. The park planners have put together a design that allows for a secure future of the different typologies.

The typologies of the Beach are environmentally critical and the park designers were adamant in their desire to protect what nature has given us. Unfortunately there was little opportunity for McIlroy or her team to get that point across. The mood in the room, set by those who stand to lose their homes, was about their housing.

McIlroy took the position that the Beachway is a flood plain and the sand dunes are constantly shifting and have to be protected. Her mandate did not include the homes – from her point of view all she was concerned about was what she described as “priority properties” land that had to be obtained if the park was the work.

The view at the Region has been – that decision has been made. City council is going along with that decision.

A closer look at the different Master Plan areas:

Beachway Masterplan area Living Shoreline

The Living Shoreline is the park the public is likely to experience first. It is passive in nature and will feature a boardwalk and a launch area for non-motorized boats.

The Living Shoreline begins basically where Spencer Smith Park ends and where Lakeshore Road gets widened. The Joseph Brant Museum rests on one side of the road with the significantly upgraded shore beginning on the other side of the road.

Slope nourishment Living shoreline

The sloped land leading to the waters edge is environmentally fragile. work will have to be done to protect this part of the park. The graphic of the Living Shoreline shows a boardwalk built in this area.

There will be a significant stretch of new boardwalk built; a shuttle bus stop, ten parking spaces, a multi-use shelter and a non-motorized Boat Launch area.

Beachway - Masterplan Fire Circle

It will be a gas fed fireplace – Joseph Brant will shudder the first time they light it – but the feature has the potential to add to the sense of outdoors and native meeting places. It is on land Brant himself would have walked upon.

There is nothing to stop the development of this part of the park. The planners might decide to wait until the construction of the hospital is complete before making the Boardwalk available to the public. The reconstruction of Lakeshore Road may delay development – the biggest impediment is that at the point in time there is no budget for any work.

This is not the first design that has been created for the Beachway Park.  There are plans that go back as far as the ’70’s – all the others went nowhere.  It will be sometime before any park construction begins – the hospital has to be completed and the issue of the homes that are now in place has to be resolved.  Lots of active, noisy public meetings ahead of us.

Beachway Shaded area Pebble Beach

The early design plans call for additions to Spencer Smith Park where it will merge into the Beachway Park. This shade structure will allow for seating at Pebble Beach, one the locale for one of the jumpingist (it could be a word) jazz joints this side of Montreal.


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