More pressure to give the public access to the lakefront. St. Paul Street resident wants to see some action.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  May 16, 2016    Good ideas just don’t go away.  James Ziegler wants to see a new link added to the Waterfront Trail and is interested in being part of any “community action group” that might want to push this one a little further.  Any pushing needs to be done at the Parks and Recreation department where Rob Peachey has been working the file..

Ziegler explains:  “I’m a resident of St. Paul Street.  While walking with my wife tonight to the end of St. Paul Street where the road meets the lake we mused about how nice it would be to walk right up the lake shore.   My wife was surprised when I said the property maps show that it is public lands right up to the lake at this point however you would not know this from how the adjacent home owners have landscaped the area.

St. Paul Street resident wants to see Waterfront Trail extended through lake shore property the city already owns.

“We took the opportunity to walk right up to the stone lake shore protection wall and enjoy the view and I trust we were not trespassing on private land and fully within a citizen’s right to do so.

“Looking more closely at the land parcels, there is a contiguous strip of public land along the Lake shore between St. Paul Street and Market Street.    I suggest this could become a pedestrian and bicycle pathway, part of the Waterfront trail.

“Although is has become the practice of the home owners adjacent to the lake in this area to treat the land as private it is not part of their deeded land.   I believe this is no different than places along the pipeline right of way that are being cultivated for gardens by the adjacent home owners.   There are so few areas of access the the lake for the general public, areas where the land title and property lines are both separated by a significant distance, such as over 30 feet, and form part of  contiguous lands between existing streets, these areas should be considered for public pathways serving the general good of our community.

Ziegler wants to know if  “consideration of this link has been initiated by the City of Burlington.   If not I would like to discuss the feasibility of a water front link between St. Paul Street and Market Street and the formation of a citizens’ action committee to achieve this goal.  If there is already such a citizen group I will be happy to add my support to the cause.”

Les Armstrong, a member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee, along with a couple of his fellow committee members covered the full length of the lakefront of the city looking for those locations where the public has the right to access the lake and found several places where the access wasn’t as accessible as it was supposed to be.

When former Mayor of Toronto, David Crombie met with the Waterfront Advisory he said there was a time when Burlington was a leader in the development of the Waterfront Trail – but that that is no longer the case.

This part of town isn't used to having just anyone tramp through the streets. Will the waterfront access ever be opened up?

The Waterfront Advisory Committee called people at city hall and asked then to explain why this was so.  Rob Peachy appeared and gave some of the background.  The best comment he made at the time was that “this wasn’t his favourite file”.  Apparently the property owners who live by the lake tend to think of the shore line as theirs and don’t appear to want any interlopers wandering around their homes.

The city has found itself with fights on their hands in the past in that part of town and haven’t always won the battle.  We just might be seeing another battle shaping up.  Will having Marianne Meed Ward at the Council table make a difference?  Stay tuned.




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3 comments to More pressure to give the public access to the lakefront. St. Paul Street resident wants to see some action.

  • tony millington

    I can appreciate both sides of the arguement that some of the residents are putting forwrad. What I have tried to do is look at it through the eyes of the abutting land owners who are the ones who will be mostly impacted. These neighbours actually created these lands that are now in question by the waterfront committee. The Ministry, the City of Burlington and the Conservation Authority approved the Seawall roposed by the residents. This seawall was created at quite a healthy cost to the residents, the City did not contribute to the wall with the exception of the road allowances (Windows to the Lake)terminating at the Lake. These neighbours have maintained these lands by filling in any areas that have eroded, cutting grass, and trying to maintain an area that they understood they had some type of exclusivety. They are now concerned with this area being touted as a park and the increase in foot traffic. There concerns are that should someone fall or trip over this embankment who will get sued, the people who are encouraging the public use Lakeshore Committee, the City, the Ministry, Conservation Halton or the residents.

    The City of Burlington has mentioned in many of their reports that they do not have the funds to create and maintain this park. Therefore the first steps should be to cleanup any and all issues related to the road allowances. In viewing these road allowance extensions many of them have been claimed by the abutting residents. It also appears that a couple of the residences are using this road allowance for their parking and may in fact have leases. Would these windows to the Lake not satisfy the Public’s needs for a view of the Lake. I have visited a few of these “Windows to the Lake and note that many of them are not being utilized”.

    We in Burlington are fortunate that we enjoy possibly the longest stretch of unencumbered Lakeshore of any Urbanized community in Canada (the canal to Emmas Back porch).

    I to have mixed feelings on this suject. Should the land owners be compensated by the City for the $100,000’s of what they have spent and then perhaps they would give up their rights ??? There are no moneys available, as a taxpayer in Burlington I suggest we drop this pathway to nowhere or have the lawyers bring it to fruition.

    I encourage you to investigate this further.

    Please excuse any grammar or spelling errors

  • James Ziegler

    Water Street Walkway

    For the cost of a wall and expedient choices, our past civic leaders were prepared to give up Water Street. Tony Millington’s response has outlined the history of Water Street lakeshore protection between Guelph Line and Market Street. The limited vision of our past civic leaders appears to have chosen to overlook the larger public good in favour of harmonizing a few lots with the status quo of lands along the lakeshore with exclusive waterfront rights. According to Tony’s description, for the cost of a wall and in fear of libel suits, past leaders of our community were prepared to sell a public amenity. Fortunately these deals were not consummated and we still have an opportunity to act with vision for the benefit of our community. Water Street is an important public asset; one that represents a limited resource, access to the natural beauty of the lake.

    Tony, as a professional planner you have given arguments from the perspective of defending a private client. What would be your opinions from the point of view of a planner considering the growth of the community and policies to intensify the density of populations in the core area? The growing population and the size of the community that would benefit from the Water Street Walkway is an essential part of this discussion.

    Unfortunately, it may come down to a legal argument. The better frame of the argument is a moral one and a question that defines the quality and character of our community.

    Looking at a map of the city of Burlington, it is clear that very few communities adjacent to the lake have waterfront access within walking distance. Port Nelson Park at the base of Guelph line has a net accessible water frontage of under 50 feet, much less than the typical lots along the lakeshore. These 50 feet are serving as waterfront access for several thousand people within walking distance, a population many times greater that the sum total of people living in the homes along the entire length of the lakeshore in Burlington. The Water Street Walkway would add about 500 feet of frontage if it were to connect Market Street to Port Nelson Park. This would create a significant window to the lake situated halfway between the downtown and Sioux Lookout Park.

    It’s not too late. We have the opportunity to make a change that will improve the quality of life in our community for generations to come.

    I’ve enjoyed working with Tony and appreciate his understanding of the evolution of our community plans. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  • tony millington

    I read with great interest the ideas on creating a walkway bewtween St Paul & Market Street. These lands were created when the City of Burlington, Conservation Halton and the Ministry of Natiural Resources allowed the abutting land owners to fill in Lake Ontario and construct at their expense a seawall approved by all three government bodies. The City of Burlington contributed by paying for the shoreline protection at the end of Market Street and St Paul. The end result was that the owners were to purchase subject lands. Houses were sold and this sale fell through the cracks. However one of the land owners launched a law suit against one of the sellers as it was represented that the purchaser would own to the Lake. In this law suit the most westerly land owner was allowed in the court decision to place a fence along this parcel of land they had created. Thereby restricting public access. These documents are available.

    These homeowners backing onto the Lake have enjoyed quiet enjoyment of their backyards same as the rest of the residents of Burlington. Police have been called occasionaly when younger partiers were using the wall as a glass shattering excercise. Recently a young toddler was just stopped in time from falling over this 30 foot high cliff. I think fences are a great safety feature if some one gets sued will it be the City. I think a fence should be installed by these residents immediately to prevent them and the City from being sued.

    I think if we are looking to be the engaging community we should perhaps engage the residents who actually created these lands and paid 100% for the cost of this wall behind their lands. In hindsight perhaps they should not have reclaimed these lands as they are now looking at being penalized. These land owners are in the process of engagng legal counsel. And by the way I know James Ziegle and he would be a great addition to the waterfront group.

    Excuse my spelling mistakes.